Freed Canadian hostage appears in court on criminal charges

FILE PHOTO: Joshua Boyle speaks to the media after arriving with his wife and three children at Toronto Pearson International Airport, nearly 5 years after he and his wife were abducted in Afghanistan in 2012 by the Taliban-allied Haqqani network, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, October 13, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/File Photo

Thomson Reuters

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A Canadian court on Wednesday postponed a bail hearing for former Taliban hostage Joshua Boyle, who was arrested on Saturday and faces criminal charges including assault, sexual assault and forcible confinement.

The charges, filed on Monday, are for crimes prosecutors allege occurred in Canada after Boyle and his family arrived back in October, nearly five years after he and his wife were abducted in Afghanistan.

When they returned to Canada with three children born in captivity, Boyle said a fourth child had been murdered and his spouse raped after their capture by the Taliban-allied Haqqani network. The Taliban denied the accusations of rape and murder.

Boyle, 34, appeared in an Ottawa courtroom on Wednesday via video link dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit. He confirmed his name, but did not enter a plea to the charges.

The court imposed a publication ban that prevents media from reporting on information that could identify alleged victims or witnesses. The ban also prohibits reporting on the details of the bail hearing. 

The charges include eight counts of assault, two counts of sexual assault, two counts of forcible confinement and one count of uttering death threats.

Boyle's attorney, Eric Granger, told Reuters via email on Tuesday night that he looked forward to defending his client.

"Mr. Boyle is presumed innocent," Granger said in an email. "He's never been in trouble before." Neither Boyle nor Granger commented on the charges.

Boyle and his wife Caitlin Coleman were kidnapped in 2012 while backpacking in Afghanistan. U.S. officials said the family spent almost all their confinement in neighboring Pakistan, which is where they were freed by Pakistani troops.

The family met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his Parliament Hill office last month. Photos released on Twitter showed Trudeau holding the youngest child in his lap.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Writing by Anna Mehler Paperny; Editing by Jim Finkle and Andrew Hay)

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