Canadian video blogger can leave Trinidad after sedition charge

By Stephanie Hamel

(Reuters) - A Trinidad and Tobago court on Thursday lifted restrictions on a Canadian video blogger from leaving the country, after he had been charged with sedition and jailed for posting videos featuring alleged gang members criticizing the Caribbean nation's government.

Christopher Hughes, known on YouTube as "Chris Must List," appeared in court in Port of Spain, where he pleaded not guilty to publishing a seditious document, according to the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian.

"Court was a success - restrictions removed, passport was given back to me, I'm able to leave the country," Hughes said on his Instagram account after leaving court.

The video blogger said he will remain on the island until his next hearing on June 13 and that he would continue filming in Port of Spain.

Hughes, who has attracted 328,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel for posting videos from dangerous places around the world, started sharing videos from the island of Trinidad in late April, some of them featuring encounters with individuals claiming to be gang members.

Trinidad and Tobago police arrested him on May 29, saying in a statement that Hughes' videos showed "individuals professing to be gang members, advocating criminal activities and using threatening language."

Under the country's law, sedition charges apply to anyone believed to have incited hatred against the government.

Hughes was detained until June 3, when he was released on bail for 100,000 Trinidad and Tobago dollars ($14,778). His passport had been confiscated by the authorities until Thursday.

Global Affairs Canada said in a statement it was aware of reports of a Canadian citizen detained in Port of Spain and that it was in contact with local authorities and providing consular assistance.

If convicted, Hughes could face up to five years in prison and a 25,000 Trinidad and Tobago dollar fine ($3,727.95), a BBC article said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Hamel; Editing by Rod Nickel)