‘FLIGHT RISK’ JAILED

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By Maurice Cacho

Wendy Maxwell, a CKLN programmer apprehended on Saturday for living in Canada illegally, was denied bond yesterday.

The judge ruled that the women’s rights activist fears danger in her native Costa Rica so much she poses a “flight risk.”

An update from Ryerson confirmed that a Ryerson security officer identified Maxwell from an outstanding immigraton warrant, and contacted police. Maxwell was taken away a week after former police chief Julian Fantino publicly criticized an anti-police segment on the radio station.

Maxwell was participating in International Women’s Day activities when she was approached by two officers in Jorgenson Hall. Her arrest came as a surprise to those who worked closely with the Costa Rican national.

“In all of our years (of) existence we have never been faced with a situation of directly witnessing the police harassment of one of our community members on our campus,” said Liz Diaz of the Ryerson Women’s Centre.

Since her visa expired Dec. 1, 2003, the CKLN volunteer and community activist has been living in hiding. She has since filed a humanitarian and compassionate leave application with government officials as a last resort to stay in the country.

Last week, former police chief Julian Fantino had asked Ryerson to ban a program on CKLN which discussed cases of police brutality across North America. CKLN news director Kristin Schwartz refused to comment if Maxwell’s arrest was related to Fantino’s remarks.

However, Stefanie Gude of the Maxwell Support Committee and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty said Toronto Police decide whether or not to arrest an illegal immigrant. She added it’s not something they usually do.

“Metro Toronto Police has the discretion to act on an immigrant warrant. It’s not their business, they make it their business,” said Gude. Maxwell has since been transferred from Toronto Police Service’s 51st division to the Vanier corrections centre in Milton. Gude said that a bail payment for a case such as Maxwell’s typically costs anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000.

Since she arrived in 1997, Maxwell has gathered a strong following of supporters fighting to keep her in the country. They fear that if she does get deported back to Costa Rica, she will be subject to persecution and violence.

Ron Anicich, host of Bad Cop, No Donut! on CKLN thinks there is no direct relationship between Maxwell’s arrest and his show’s content. “There can’t possibly be (a connection),” he said.

“The important thing for everybody at CKLN is we have to do everything we can from preventing Wendy from being deported right now. Not just us but everybody around us as well.”

Maxwell’s next detention review is set for March 15. A party on March 10 at the B-Sweet Lounge will celebrate her contributions.

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