Canadian pastor arrested on tarmac over COVID rules says police confiscated baggage and searched laptop
EXCLUSIVE: The Polish guy-Canadian The pastor who has been arrested multiple times for hosting church services in Calgary, Alta., Said Canadian border police confiscated his property and apparently broke into his personal computer.
When Pastor Artur Pawlowski returned to his hometown of Calgary on Monday after a four-month tour of the United States, customs officials were waiting to handcuff him on the tarmac for two criminal charges, he told Fox News in a report. interview.
“They have fallen to a new low,” Pawlowski said of Canadian authorities. âOur attorneys contacted them and asked them if there were any warrants pending against me while I was in the United States. They said there were no warrants pending, that there were no warrants pending against me. ‘there was nothing outstanding. “
Pawlowski had traveled across the United States over the summer to spread his warning that Western governments are increasingly looking like the Communist regime in Poland he fled young.
His tour followed the international attention he received in April when officials visited his church in Canada during Holy Week to inspect it for COVID-19 compliance. Because they entered the shrine armed and uninvited during a service, Pawlowski refused to speak to them.
Instead, he accused them of being âNazisâ and shouted at them until they agreed to leave. The video of the meeting went viral.
Three weeks later, officials returned with a court order allowing them access to Pawlowski’s church and arrest him if he did not comply. Again, he demanded that they leave church property and contact his lawyer.
On May 8, a motorcade of police vehicles from Calgary arrested Pawlowski and his brother for Stop them in the middle of a highway on the way back from the church.
This time, Pawlowski surmised that they had misled his lawyers before activating criminal charges against him on Monday while he was in the air.
The first criminal charge, Pawlowski explained, was brought against him for not wearing a mask in public, despite medical dispensation from his doctor. The second was for the organization of an illegal church gathering. Both were linked to offenses committed in March and June.
In an interaction he described as an ambush, Pawlowski recounted how three officers demanded that he and his pilot get out of the plane. He said he heard one of the officers tell the pilot to return his phone, although the pilot refused and managed to record the incident.
What is particularly disturbing for Pawlowski is that he was not allowed to greet his family, who have been waiting to see him for the first time in months. His wife, he said, was informed of his arrest by journalists.
âIt was the most brutal thing,â he said. “It was Nazi style, Communist style. Trying to break up a man, his family and his children by not even allowing me to say hello after being away for so long.”
“I am not a terrorist”
Pawlowski said authorities confiscated his luggage after arresting him. Even after his lawyer was released in the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday, he said police initially denied knowing the whereabouts of his belongings, although a reporter told him he saw his belongings be packed in a police car.
When he finally picked them up from the police station, he said his belongings were marked with tags suggesting that authorities searched them. There were also indications that his personal laptop had been accessed. Normally locked with a password, he said it was open when he retrieved it.
A spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said the agency is required by Canada’s Privacy Act not to comment on specific people or situations, but directed Fox News to a website explaining the policies governing the CBSA’s ability to examine electronic devices.
The CBSA website says officers are authorized to inspect electronic devices and travelers are required to comply to the point of handing over their passwords. Cases of electronic devices examined are extremely rare, however, and the CBSA’s own statistics claim that this only happened to 0.014% of those who passed through Canadian ports of entry from November 20, 2017 to June 30, 2021.
âI don’t know what they were looking for,â Pawlowski said. “I’m a pastor. I’m not a spy, and I’m not a terrorist. Everything I do is public.”
“The government wants to become God”
Sarah Miller, one of Pawlowski’s attorneys, said her treatment was “unusual”.
“It was not necessary to do it at the airport,” she said, adding that the police could instead “call her ahead, tell her that they were coming to lay criminal charges, the meet at his home, give him the opportunity to access legal counsel and sign documents without having any detention.
âI think that would be the ordinary way to do it,â she added. “But if you’ve been following Artur Pawlowski’s story, there is nothing ordinary about the way he is treated by officials.”
Since the pandemic, other churches in Canada and Alberta have faced jailed pastors, locked down facilities, high fines and continued interference from government officials.
Pawlowski believes churches and clergy are being targeted because they have historically opposed tyranny.
âJesus Christ is very clear,â the pastor said. âHe said, ‘Whoever comes to me is truly free.’ We preach freedom. We preach hope. When you have no hope in society, then people look to the government for that hope. I think the government wants to become God, to be worshiped. And anyone else or anything that rivals that needs to be destroyed.
‘They will come for you’
Pawlowski is scheduled to appear in court on October 13 on separate civil charges against him related to his religious gatherings. His civil and criminal charges carry a maximum sentence of six years in prison, although his lawyer said such an outcome was “highly unlikely”.
At his last hearing, prosecutors for Alberta Health Services (AHS) were asking for 21 days in jail and a fine of $ 2,000, plus $ 15,000 in legal fees.
Pawlowski isn’t sure how the decision will play out, but even if he has to return to prison, he’s still hopeful.
“I am optimistic that this story is going to end well for me due to the pressure from the government right now,” he said, noting how his case has caught the eyes of many Americans.
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Eric Trump issued a statement on Tuesday calling Pawlowski’s latest arrest “embarrassing for Canada.” In June, Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Called the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) consider adding Canada to its watch list because of the way it treats pastors.
“I really think people will rise up and come to my defense and at the same time to their own defense,” said Pawlowski. “Because listen very carefully: they came for me, they will come for you. It’s just a matter of not if, but when.”