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The CLHRF again strongly denounces the arbitrary detention since July 10, 2003 on charges of espionage of the Canadian Pastor, Mr. Bruce Balfour, by the politicized and Syrianized judiciary authorities of Lebanon. The shame in this Human Rights atrocity lies in its infringement on the rights of a Canadian citizen who has been working hard as a volunteer to help in a reforestation project aiming at replanting the biblical cedars of Lebanon, in association with the Maranatha Evangelistic Association.

The Syrian-appointed Lebanese regime is notorious for its horrible inhumane violations of the basic rights of the Lebanese people in all domains, especially freedom of expression. The CLHRF calls on the Canadian government to urgently take all necessary diplomatic measures to secure the immediate release of Mr. Bruce Balfour, and to start dealing with the Syrian-installed Lebanese regime as an oppressive authority of occupation that does not represent the people.

Mr. Balfour will appear in court on Monday September 1, 2003 for the fourth time to answer to charges of espionage. These charges are false and were fabricated to serve the retaliatory schemes of the Syrian and Iranian regimes against the Canadian government.  Unsolved problems remain between the three countries revolving around human rights atrocities inflicted by Damascus and Tehran on Canadian citizens. Since last Thursday, the Canadian Minister for immigration has been on a visit to Beirut to have first-hand information on the Balfour case.

The CLHRF has learned from anonymous sources located in Beirut that the Lebanese regime might attempt to cut a secret deal with the visiting Canadian Minister in which espionage charges against Balfour will be dropped and replaced with minor ones (spreading religious hatred) in a face-saving bid for the regime in Beirut after the Balfour case failed to achieve its Iranian-Syrian objectives. According to this unconfirmed information about the deal, Balfour will be sentenced to a few months in jail and then released.

The Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation cautions against such a deal and calls on the Canadian government to utilize all peaceful means at its disposal to secure the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Balfour, whose judicial case is apparently used as a Syrian-Iranian bargaining chip.

The CLHRF, on behalf of the Canadian-Lebanese Community members who share its values and aspirations, hails and greatly appreciates Mr. Bruce Balfour's sincere help in Lebanon's reforestation efforts. We further calls on the Syrian-installed Lebanese authorities to apologize to Mr. Balfour and secure his immediate and unconditional release.

Spokesman for the CLHRF
Elias Bejjani