Trudeau champions on behalf of Calgarians detained overseas during G20 sidebars
Prime Minister Trudeau has reached out to the leaders of Indonesia and Turkey requesting information regarding three Canadians, including two Calgarians, who are currently behind bars overseas.
Trudeau initiated conversations regarding the cases of Neil Bantleman, a former Calgary teacher currently incarcerated in Indonesia, as well as Davud Hanci and Ilhan Erdam, imams who remain imprisoned in Turkey.
The Canadian Prime Minister, who is in China for the G20 summit, said he knows how important it is to have a government that is concerned for the welfare of its citizens abroad.
Hanci, an imam with Alberta Correctional Services who has dual-citizenship, was arrested in July in the days following a failed coup attempt in Turkey. The allegations against Hanci have not been made known to the accused, his legal representation or his family.
The 40-year-old was arrested during a trip to his homeland alongside his wife and children to visit his ailing father.
According to Turkish media reports, Hanci has been identified as Halis Hanci, a Pennsylvania resident and known associate of the cleric who allegedly spearheaded the uprising.
Bantleman was convicted in 2014 of crimes against students at the school he taught at in Jakarta. The child sex abuse convictions of Bantleman and a fellow teacher were overturned by the High Court in August 2015 but the Indonesian Supreme Court overruled the acquittal in February 2016.
News of Trudeau’s efforts was lauded by the families of Hanci and Bantleman.
“We’re very excited and happy about it,” said Selman Durmus, Hanci’s brother-in-law. “We’ve been so worried as a family. To hear about Justin Trudeau bringing it up at a very important place definitely surprised us and encouraged us.”
“We’re hoping for better news and getting him back to Canada.”
Guy Bantleman, Neil’s brother, says he remains cautiously optimistic, noting the need for diplomacy.
“Nobody wants Neil back more than I do but I also realize that there’s a reality that we need to face here,” explained Guy Bantleman during a Skype interview with CTV Calgary. “If we act like a petulant child in this scenario, we’re just going to harm our chances of getting Neil out.”
Neil Bantleman’s conviction is currently in the judicial review phase.