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Suaad Hagi Mohamud, who was detained for three months in Kenya after authorities decided she didn't resemble her passport photo, embraces her son Mohamed Hussein upon her arrival at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Saturday. (MIKE CASSESE)
Suaad Hagi Mohamud, who was detained for three months in Kenya after authorities decided she didn't resemble her passport photo, embraces her son Mohamed Hussein upon her arrival at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Saturday. (MIKE CASSESE)

Woman detained in Kenya returns home Add to ...

A Canadian woman detained in Kenya for months smiled, wiped away tears and wouldn't let go of her 12-year-old son, as a throng of family and supporters welcomed her home Saturday.

"My boy, my boy," said an emotional Suaad Hagi Mohamud, as she embraced Mohamed, her only child, after arriving at Pearson International Airport.

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"You can't imagine, I'm really happy to come home. I'm really, really happy to come back," she said as friend after friend pushed their way through the crowd to plant kisses on her cheeks.

"I'm glad my own nightmare is over," said Ms. Mohamud, whose country declared her an imposter in what became a three month ordeal.

Ms. Mohamud made no other comment and was quickly ushered along with the help of two police officers who had escorted her from customs.

A Somali chant was taken up by much of the crowd, amid cheers and applause as Ms. Mohamud made her way through the airport.

The 31-year-old was visiting her mother in Kenya and was about to fly home in May when authorities stopped her at Nairobi airport saying her lips did not look like those in her four-year-old passport photo.

When she turned to her country for help, officials at the Canadian High Commission said they doubted her citizenship, voided her passport and handed her case over to Kenyan authorities for prosecution.

Ms. Mohamud then spent eight harrowing days in jail before being released on bail without travel documents and with multiple charges hanging over her head.

The charges, which included being in the country illegally, were laid as a result of Canada calling her an imposter.

In the weeks that followed, Ms. Mohamud fished out numerous pieces of ID, offered her fingerprints and finally demanded her DNA be tested to prove her identity.

All the while her son remained in Toronto, being taken care of by relatives and friends.

It wasn't until the genetic tests confirmed her identity Monday that the federal government began preparing emergency travel documents that would permit her to return to Toronto and reunite with her son.

A judge in a Nairobi court dropped charges against Ms. Mohamud Friday, and she boarded a plane later in the day bound for Toronto.

"We are all relieved," said family spokesman Abdi Warsame. "But it was really an ordeal that we'd love to forget."

Mr. Warsame spoke for Ms. Mohamud as she bowed her head and clutched her son tighter.

"She was humiliated, she was degraded but now she's finally home, we're happy," he said.

"She feels more Canadian today than ever before...We're Canadians of Somali descent that right was taken from her," he said as the crowd around him erupted into cheers and waved hand-held Canadian flags alongside sky-blue Somali ones.

"We are not second-class citizens," yelled one man. "I'm glad we are Canadians, I love this country."

On Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his government has asked for a full accounting of how the Canada Border Services Agency handled Ms. Mohamud's case and will review its actions.

His words came after Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty ripped into Ottawa for failing to "stand up" for Canadians by abandoning the Toronto woman.

Mr. Harper put in a personal phone call to Ms. Mohamud's son before his mother returned.

"It was kind of relieving," said 12-year-old Mohamed. "(He said) 'don't worry about anything your mom will come back,' It made me feel better."

Mohamed, who had been pacing the arrivals hall for much of the afternoon with a bouquet in hand, remained at his mother's side as the pair were ushered out of the airport.

Ms. Mohamud's Canadian lawyer Raoul Boulakia stayed with the pair as they wove their way through the swarm of reporters present.

"Thank you for coming out and hearing about Suaad. She is very relieved to be home," he said.

Mr. Boulakia said Ms. Mohamud would take some time away from the public eye to recover mentally and physically.

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