Government Blocks Citizenship Due to Russian Conviction for Criticizing the Ukrainian War – JONATHAN TURLEY

I have long been a critic of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who has devastated free speech in that country while assuming sweeping authoritarian powers.  Now, his administration has blocked the citizenship of Maria Kartasheva because she has a conviction in Russia.  The crime? Free speech. Kartasheva was convicted in Russia for criticizing the war in Ukraine. She was literally pulled out of a citizenship ceremony by Canadian officials and now fears deportation and incarceration in Russia.

It is essential that we spread the word on Kartasheva’s situation to put pressure on the government to make sure that she is not deported and to finish its review of the case to move forward with her citizenship.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada yanked the citizenship application after learning of the conviction under Putin’s draconian laws. She was charged with the wartime offense of disseminating “deliberately false information” about Russia forces.

She has not lived in Russia since 2019 and has lived in Ottawa as a tech worker. She is also the co-founder of a  grassroots activist group for democracy in Russia. In other words, she is everything that you would want in a new citizen. Indeed, unlike Trudeau, she knows the value of free speech and how easily it is lost to government agencies.

Notably, the charge was based on two blog posts that Kartasheva wrote and published in Canada.  

She expressed disgust at reports in March 2022 that Russian troops had killed Ukrainians in the town of Bucha. Not only did she write the blogs while living in Canada, she notified Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada about the charges and supplied the underlying papers to the government.

Nevertheless, her citizenship ceremony was scheduled only to have an official block her from becoming a citizen.

Oh, but it gets even worse.

According to a press report, Kartasheva “was arrested in absentia by a judge sanctioned by Canada, and then convicted and sentenced to eight years in jail by a Moscow court that is also under Canadian sanctions.”

That brings us to the final and most chilling aspect of this drama. The Canadian government informed Kartasheva that her conviction in Russia aligns with a Criminal Code offense in Canada relating to false information.

That’s right. Canada is concerned because it also has criminalized speech and Kartasheva has used free speech to spread what her government considered false or misleading information.

For example, Section 372(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada makes it unlawful for any person to convey, cause, or procure to be conveyed false information with the intent to alarm or injure anyone.

The government cracked down on Internet speech despite opposition from the public and pushed 2021 Bill C-36 to impose $70,000 fines for legal content deemed “likely to foment detestation or vilification.”

So this brave woman made it all the way to the West to live in freedom only to find that Canada also puts people in jail for voicing dissenting or opposing viewpoints. The problem is not that Kartasheva is fundamentally different from most Canadians. The problem is that Canada is legally not that different from Russia on free speech.

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