Former Taliban Hostage Joshua Boyle Arrested And Charged

Canadian Joshua Boyle, recently freed from Taliban-linked militants, was arrested in Ottawa and is facing over a dozen charges, including sexual assault, forcible confinement and uttering death threats. He is currently in police custody and is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

Near the end of 2017, Boyle was rescued in Pakistan along with his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, and their three children, all of whom were born in captivity while they were held hostage by the Taliban-linked Haqqani network.

Boyle now faces 15 charges, including:

  • Eight counts of assault
  • Two counts of sexual assault
  • Two counts of unlawful confinement
  • One count of uttering death threats
  • One count of causing someone to “take a noxious thing, namely Trazodone” (Trazodone is an antidepressant)
  • One count of misleading the police

All of the alleged offenses occurred in Ottawa, Canada, between October 14 and December 30. A publication ban prevents any identification of the victims.

Boyle’s lawyer, Eric Granger, said that his client is presumed innocent and that he is “eager to see” the evidence in the case. Granger told the Associated Press that Boyle would not be attending his court date Wednesday in person.

“Mr. Boyle is a young man who we all know has been through a lot. He has never been in trouble with the law,” Granger wrote in an email. “We look forward to receiving that evidence and defending him against these charges in court.”

In a statement to the Toronto Star, Boyle’s wife Coleman wrote: “I can’t speak about the specific charges, but I can say that ultimately it is the strain and trauma he was forced to endure for so many years and the effect that that had on his mental state that is most culpable for this. Obviously, he is responsible for his own actions, but it is with compassion and forgiveness that I say I hope help and healing can be found for him. As to the rest of us, myself and the children, we are healthy and holding up as well as we can.”

Boyle and Coleman were kidnapped back in July 2012 in Afghanistan during an alleged vacation traveling through Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and supposedly through to Russia, when Coleman was already several months pregnant. After being rescued, Boyle refused the most immediate flight out of the country as it would have taken them to the Bagram US military base - instead, he opted to wait and have himself and his family flown home on a Canadian commercial flight on October 13, 2017. Combined with his public claims that his wife had been raped and one of his children killed by the Taliban, it made for an especially shocking story.

Boyle and his family met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just last month to discuss the Haqqani network. It was the first time the children had met Trudeau, but Boyle said both him and Coleman had previously met Trudeau and been to parliament. Social media photos showed Trudeau holding the youngest child. Although there are no official reports as to who requested the meeting and what was discussed, some were quick to criticize the meeting, especially given Boyle’s former marriage to Zaynab Khadr, sister of former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr.

Months ago, many speculated about the gaps in their story, including us at TrigTent - and these latest developments are only adding fuel to the fire. There are many disputed details, included Coleman herself claiming the American and Pakistani statements on rescue dates and locations were wrong. Shortly after, Boyle told the Associated Press that his wife had been hospitalized in Ottawa, but provided no details as to why she was there or the duration of her stay.

The family moved into an Ottawa apartment about a month ago. Neighbors Sharon Kite and Johanne Aubé told the Ottawa Citizen that Coleman slid letters under everyone’s door asking if someone was willing to share their internet.

“She said they were only here temporarily so we’re hoping to be able to use someone’s WiFi,” Aubé said. Kite and Aubé described the family as intriguing and mysterious, especially Caitlan, who wore a hijab and traveled with one child in a stroller and another strapped to her chest in a carrier, but rarely saw Joshua Boyle. Police spoke with other tenants of the four-story walk-up before arresting Joshua Boyle on December 30.

Given their undoubtedly horrifying few years, I wonder how much of Boyle’s behavior can be linked to post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental difficulties that arise from such a prolonged captivity. But then again, given the fact that no ransoms were ever demanded for their release and details of their experiences seem to be well-rehearsed and curated to specific events, one cannot help but question what the details of their hostage situation really were.

The developments surrounding this family will certainly make for a fascinating start to the year.

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