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Updated: Fri, 26 Jul 2013 14:40:13 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Canadian accused of terror links leaves Mauritania



Canadian accused of terror links leaves Mauritania

A Canadian man jailed in Mauritania for his alleged terror links has left the North African country.

Aaron Yoon is believed to be on his way back to Canada, but his destination isn't immediately clear.

Yoon was arrested in Mauritania in December of 2011 and sentenced to 18 months in jail. He was released from prison there on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old Canadian was convicted of having ties to an al-Qaeda-affiliated group that operates in the North African region, and of posing a danger to Mauritanian national security.

The London, Ont., man had travelled to the area with two Canadian high school friends, Ali Medlej and Xris Katsiroubas. They were later killed while taking part in an attack on a natural gas plant in Algeria last year.

Thirty-seven hostages also died in the attack.

Yoon has denied any link to terrorism, saying he went to Mauritania to learn Arabic and study the Qur'an. He has said he doesn't know how Medlej or Katsiroubas became linked with militants, and that he was tortured while in prison.

An official with Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that a Canadian had been released from prison in Mauritania, but said the department would not be commenting further on the matter.

Yoon was escorted out of the country by Mauritanian intelligence officials, CBC's Adrienne Arsenault reported. He likely went to Morocco before starting the rest of his journey home by plane, she said.

"Whether he's with Canadian officials is unclear," Arsenault said.

"They certainly don’t want him to arrive to a sea of cameras," she added. "They would like to be able to have him slip back home as quietly and quickly as possible.”

It will be difficult for Canadian authorities to arrest Yoon, Arsenault said, unless they have compelling evidence that he poses a threat to Canada. Yoon’s claim that he was tortured while in detention in Mauritania may invalidate the evidence against him that was collected by investigators there, she said.

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