Former Taliban hostage Joshua Boyle arrested over string of alleged crimes including sexual assault

David Gardner
Canadian Joshua Boyle, who was held captive by a faction of the Afghan Taliban for five years, has been arrested on 15 charges including sexual assault, illegal confinement and issuing death threats: AFP

A former Taliban hostage held captive with his wife and children for five years has been arrested for a string of alleged crimes including sexual assault.

Canadian Joshua Boyle, his wife Caitlin Coleman and three children arrived back in his home country last October.

All three of his children were born in captivity after the son of a tax-court judge and his pregnant American wife were abducted by a Taliban-linked group while backpacking in Afghanistan.

At the time of his release he said one of his children had been murdered and spouse was raped after their capture by the Taliban-allied Haqqani network.

Police have now laid 15 charges against Boyle, 34, including eight counts of assault, two counts of sexual assault, two counts of forcible confinement and one count of uttering death threats.

Boyle was also reportedly charged with one count of causing someone to “take a noxious thing, namely Trazodone,” an antidepressant, according to court documents.

The court in Ottawa is said to have banned any information that could identify the alleged victims.

The ex-hostage is in custody and was not expected to attend a court hearing today (Weds), according to his lawyer, Eric Granger.

“Mr Boyle is presumed innocent. He’s never been in trouble before. No evidence has been provided yet, which is typical at this early stage. We look forward to receiving the evidence and defending him against these charges,” Mr Granger was reported as saying last night.

In a statement to the Toronto Star, Boyle’s wife wrote: “I can’t speak about the specific charges, but I can say that ultimately it is the strain and trauma he was forced to endure for so many years and the effects that that had on his mental state that is most culpable for this.”

“Obviously, he is responsible for his own actions,” she added, “but it is with compassion and forgiveness that I say I hope help and healing can be found for him. As to the rest of us, myself and the children, we are healthy and holding up as well as we can.”

Boyle said in October that his wife had been hospitalised in Ottawa, but he did not offer any further details.

The family was rescued by Pakistani troops on October 11 in an operation targetting their captors, who had moved the Boyles across the border from Afghanistan.

The rescue was launched following a tip from US intelligence.

Boyle was once briefly married to Zaynab Khadr, the older sister of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr and the daughter of a senior al-Qaida financier who had contacts with Osama bin Laden.

Officials have ruled out any link between Boyle’s past and his capture.

The offenses allegedly took place in Ottawa between October 14, shortly after the family’s arrival back in Canada, and December 30.

Just before Christmas, the family visited Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at his parliamentary office. Photos that Boyle released at the time on Twitter showed Trudeau holding the youngest child in his lap.