Masked Chinese migrant released, to settle in Toronto
A young Chinese man who disguised himself as an elderly white male to board a flight to Canada will likely live in Toronto as he applies for refugee status.
The Immigration and Refugee Board ordered the man released after more than three months of being detained, on the condition he post a $5,000 bond and report to the Canada Border Services Agency every week.
The man boarded a flight to Canada from Hong Kong last October while wearing a mask that made him appear to be an elderly white man and using a legitimate U.S. passport belonging to someone else.
Police at the boarding gate in Hong Kong did not notice the disguise. Flight staff grew suspicious when he emerged from a washroom after removing the disguise. He was arrested at the Vancouver International Airport.
The man's identity is protected by a publication ban.
Adjudicator Anita Merai-Schwartz said the young man had paid to enter Canada using money from his parents.
She said eight people apparently associated with the operation have been arrested in Hong Kong, leading her to believe he used a human smuggling ring to get to Canada.
Lawyer Daniel McLeod said a Chinese-Canadian closely linked to the young man's family has agreed to post the bond and provide accommodation in Toronto.
Canada Border Services Agency has argued that the migrant poses a flight risk based on the way he arrived in Canada.
As a condition of his release, the man must report to the CBSA office in Toronto within a week.
Under Canada's refugee and immigration laws, the man cannot be prosecuted for entering Canada illegally because he has claimed asylum. He is also able to apply for a work permit.
According to his lawyer, he is likely to travel to Toronto this weekend and begin the lengthy refugee application process, which could take as long as two years.
With files from The Canadian Press