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Canadian ex-hostage in court on sexual assault, death threats

© AFP/File | Freed Canadian hostage Joshua Boyle, pictured here on October 14, 2017, shortly after he was freed from the Taliban after five years in captivity with wife and three children

OTTAWA (AFP) - 

A Canadian man who was held captive by a faction of the Afghan Taliban for five years appeared briefly in an Ottawa court on Wednesday, facing a slew of charges that include sexual assault, illegal confinement and issuing death threats.

Joshua Boyle, 34, appeared for less than five minutes by video link at the court hearing, which was described by his lawyer, Eric Granger, as a "purely administrative" procedure. The next hearing was set for January 8.

Boyle, who was rescued by the Pakistani military together with his wife Caitlin Coleman and their three children last October, faces charges on 15 counts, including eight of assault, two of sexual assault and two of illegal confinement.

The other charges included issuing death threats, forcing a person to consume a "noxious" substance thought to be an anti-depressant, and of misleading the police. All were said to have taken place since he returned to Canada.

A court order prevented publication of the identities of his alleged victims.

His wife Caitlin told the Toronto Star she blamed "the strain and trauma he was forced to endure for so many years and the effects that that had on his mental state" for her husband's alleged actions.

She said it was "with compassion and forgiveness that I... hope help and healing can be found for him."

Boyle and Coleman, who have been married since 2011, were kidnapped by the Taliban during what they described as a backpacking trip through war-torn Afghanistan in 2012, and were later transferred to the custody of the Haqqani faction, known for its alleged ties to the Pakistani military.

They were freed on October 12, but refused to board a US military plane. Boyle, a Muslim convert and long-time advocate of freed Guantanamo inmate Omar Khadr -- whose sister he was formerly married to -- cited fears because of his background.

© 2018 AFP