Accused extremist recruiter expected to plead guilty to terrorism charges

OTTAWA — An accused extremist recruiter is returning to the Ontario Superior Court on Thursday and is expected to plead guilty to terrorism offences, eight years after he was first charged.

Awso Peshdary's criminal trial had been on hold pending a decision in Federal Court, where his lawyers were arguing that charges should be dropped because Canada's spy agency was authorized to surveil him based on misleading information.

The Federal Court has not yet made a ruling, but Peshdary's lawyers have now filed a motion with the criminal court to have the matter dealt with.

They say their client is now prepared to plead guilty, and the defence is submitting a joint application with the Crown to proceed directly to sentencing.

Peshdary was arrested on terrorism-related charges in February 2015, based on allegations that he recruited and financed homegrown terrorists and helped Islamic State militants travel to Syria.

His case has dragged on in court while lawyers representing him, the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service debated what evidence was admissible and could be disclosed in the proceedings.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 21, 2023.

The Canadian Press