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ISIS supporter?

Canadian authorities charged Pamir Hakimzadah with leaving Canada to join the Islamic State, but he maintains his innocence

An accused ISIS supporter is fighting the charges in an Ontario court

A Canadian man charged with joining the Islamic State is fighting the charges, while his father contends that he’s only facing jail time because of his faith.

Pamir Hakimzadah, 27, was charged with one count of leaving Canada to participate in the activity of a terrorist group on Wednesday, the RCMP said in a press release.

Police began investigating Hakimzadah in January 2016, after it was revealed he had visited Turkey in the fall of 2014 to join the Islamic State, according to the RCMP. He was returned to Canada after being detained by Turkish authorities.

“He’s a Muslim, he’s praying, that’s his problem.”

His lawyer, Rishma Gupta, pointed to the long lag between the beginning of the investigation and the eventual charges as proof that the police have a weak case.

Hakimzadah was already in custody at the Toronto South Detention Centre on other outstanding allegations by the Toronto police, said Gupta. In June of 2016, he was arrested for uttering threats, assault, and assault causing bodily harm.

The RCMP went to the jail on Wednesday to lay the terror charge.

Gupta, who spent the morning speaking with Hakimzadah, said he was shocked and upset. “They’re serious charges,” she said.

“We’re in a culture where anybody could be charged with terrorism.”

“We’re in a culture where anybody could be charged with terrorism,” she said. “The police were investigating this since January 2016, and they didn’t lay this charge until just yesterday, and that, to me, is something that’s suspect.”

“We live with judicial system where presumption of innocence applies, the burden is on the Crown, and we’re going to wait for trial … I will defend my clients the best way I can,” Gupta continued.  

Hakimzadah’s father, who declined to provide his last name, denied the allegations against his son in an interview with Global News on Wednesday.

“They took him to the jail for no reason … he is a strong, religious person,” he said. “He’s a Muslim, he’s praying, that’s his problem – no terrorist. He’s a good person. He’s an excellent person.”

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