Free Byron

Free Byron – Byron Sonne is a professional security consultant, citizen journalist, police watchdog, and technology expert.

On June 22, 2010, Byron was arrested in his home in Forest Hill, Toronto in relation to the G20 Summit.

For legal reasons, the details of Byron’s case are subject to a publication ban.

After his arrest, Byron was charged with six offenses and held for a without bail for total of 330 days.

At his preliminary hearing, five charges were dropped and one new charge was added – resulting his finally being granted bail under strenuous bail conditions.

Isn’t Byron already free?

No! Though Byron’s situation is much improved now that he is with his family, he is still not free.

One year later, the G20 is ancient history, but Byron’s day in court is still underway.

See daily updates from the trail here.

Despite sensational early media reports of Byron’s “million dollar home” in Forest Hill, Byron has no income or savings, is unable to work effectively under house arrest, and has only his retired parents to provide financial support to face his mounting legal costs.

Byron and his family deserve your support!

Furthermore, dilletante and professional security researchers, hackers, activists, and hobbyists everywhere should consider the chilling implications of some of the charges leveled against Byron: Counseling offence that is not committed although poorly understood and rarely applied, appears to enable authorities to muzzle criticism and discussion of security methods employed on the public’s behalf.

How many vulnerability disclosures, security workshops, or hackerspace conversations fall under this legislation?

Byron’s statements and actions appear to be in the defense of the public’s interest – he deserves the same from all of us.

Please join friends of Byron and show your support for his fair treatment by the Canadian justice system.

Why the publication ban?

In Canada, if the defence asks for a publication ban, it is almost always granted. This is so in Byron’s case.

The legal reasoning is two fold;

  • First, until a trial starts, there are untested allegations and evidence presented by the crown prosecutors, police officers and so on. In the early stages, there is insufficient disclosure for the defence to properly counter the evidence. There is also no chance at this stage for evidence to be tested for accuracy or relevance.
  • Second, any evidence at the pre-trial stage could be determined inadmissible. Without a publication ban, this could prejudice and pollute the jury pool.

As his supporters, we are very keen to share his story.

There is a lot to say, but we will have to wait until the trial starts before we can have this discussion in public.

What is still to come?

Trial – December 12, 2011
Byron’s trial will resume March 19, 2012.

What has already happened?

Prior to Byron’s arrest

Prior to his arrest, Byron had been stopped while filming the construction of the G20 fence prior to the G8/G20 meetings in Toronto in 2010.

Byron had also publicly his intent to legally re-broadcast unencrypted police communication on Twitter.

He also criticized the insecurities of the G20 security apparatus, despite the absolutely tremendous amount of money spent on that “security”.

Byron’s arrest – June 22, 2010

Byron was arrested in his home in Forest Hill, Toronto. His home, his parents’ cottage and his parents-in-law’s cottages were searched.

Following his arrest, Byron was charged with six offenses:

  • Possession of explosives for an unlawful purpose
  • Possession of dangerous weapons
  • Intimidation of a justice system participant by threat
  • Intimidation of a justice system participant by watch and beset
  • Mischief
  • Attempted mischief

Media reaction:

  • G20 police arrest man in Toronto, lay charges
  • ‘Middle-aged white guy’ doesn’t fit terrorist profile

Byron’s Wife Arrested – June 24, 2010

  • Wife of computer expert Byron Sonne also arrested in G20 investigation
  • The strange case of the artist and the hacker

Byron’s Wife Granted Bail – June 26, 2010

  • Bail granted to woman on G20 explosive charges

Bail Hearing – October 1, 2010

Byron was denied bail.

Preliminary Inquiry – February 22, 2011

A preliminary inquiry is a procedure wherein a judge reviews the evidence to determine if there is any chance of conviction.

In Byron’s case, all but the explosive charges were tossed out and the crown managed to have an seventh charge added called “Counselling offence that is not committed.“.

(Under Canadian law, the threshold for allowing a charge to go to trial is quite low, something referred to as “The Sheppard Test” – only 2 of the 7 charges meet this standard.)

  • Majority of G20 charges against security consultant Byron Sonne dropped

Bail was not requested at this stage and as such, no decision on bail was made. A bail application will be made in the near future.

Brief Hearing – March 20, 2011

There was a short hearing to choose a date for the next steps.

Bail Hearing Postponement- Apr 28, 2011

The Initial bail review (scheduled for May 2, 2011) was postponed until May 12.

Bail Hearings – May 12-16, 2011

The crown contested bail conditions. Another hearing was set for Wednesday May 18, 9:30am, 361 University Ave.

Bail Granted – May 18, 2011

Byron was granted bail!

Please note; The publication ban is still in effect. The reasons for the decisions are protected, as is all evidence and arguments made in the preliminary inquiry.

For this reason, we are not able to discuss the impact of the decision further than has been here.

Byron Sonne gets bail. Finally.

Trial Readiness Hearing – Oct 5, 2011

This is a short pre-trail hearing. It is expected to now be used to delay proceedings until further notice.

Pre-Trial – Nov 7-Dec 2, 2011

Byron’s pre-trial is adjourned. Volunteers have prepared day by day notes which can be found here

Update on Donations

Update: Byron’s family has been able to sort out the legal defence costs privately, and financial concerns have been resolved.

The details of which are personal, so please understand the lack of details.

A special thanks to Byron’s parents, Val and Bue. Had Byron’s parents not sacrificed so much, he would have had little chance to get a fair trial.

Sadly, he is in the minority and many, many people who are accused of crimes plea down simply because they can’t afford a defence.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association does amazing work defending Civil liberties for all Canadians. Anyone who had wished to help Byron are encouraged to instead donate to the CCLA.

Their work is so very important and your help will be very helpful!

You can also help by putting pressure on your local representative by demanding a full inquiry into the G20 police and government conduct!

Byron’s Defence

Byron is being represented by Joe DiLuca, Peter Copeland and, until his move to Vancouver, Kevin Tilley of Di Luca Copeland Davies LLP Barristers.

They have been doing a fantastic job and I’d personally not hesitate to retain them.