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Politics Joshua Boyle, former hostage, faces new charges and mental-health assessment

Joshua Boyle's lawyer Lawrence Greenspon speaks to reporters outside the court house in Ottawa, Friday, January 26, 2018.

Fred Chartrand/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Joshua Boyle, who spent five years as a hostage in Afghanistan with his family, will undergo a psychological assessment as he faces new charges in addition to the 15 offences he was accused of earlier this month.

Mr. Boyle's lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, said a forensic psychiatrist determined that Mr. Boyle is fit to stand for trial, but recommended he undergo an assessment to determine possible treatment for mental health challenges resulting from his years in captivity. Mr. Boyle will head to the Brockville Mental Health Centre for an assessment as soon as a bed is available for him.

"He's been through five years as a hostage and it should be no surprise to anybody that … as a result of that, it's affected his mental health," Mr. Greenspon told reporters after a court appearance Friday morning.

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"[It's] not an assessment to determine [mental] fitness but instead an assessment done to determine the nature of his mental health challenges and any possible treatment that would be outlined as well."

Mr. Boyle now faces a total of 19 charges, up from the initial 15 offences he was charged with Jan. 1. The new charges are one count each of assault, assault with weapon, forcible confinement and criminal harassment. Details about the new charges were not made available by the court Friday, and Mr. Greenspon did not provide specifics.

"Substantively nothing has changed. I'm not going it get into the new charges," Mr. Greenspon said.

Mr. Boyle, wearing an orange jumpsuit and sporting a beard, appeared via video from the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre on Friday morning. Mr. Greenspon declined to comment when asked how his client is doing.

Mr. Greenspon said a report will be generated after Mr. Boyle's mental-health assessment and sent back to the court. He is due back in court March 26, again via video.

Mr. Boyle, 34, was charged Jan. 1 with 15 offences, including eight counts of assault, two of sexual assault, two of unlawful confinement and one count of causing someone to take a noxious thing (the antidepressant Trazodone). The charges have not been tested in court. Court orders prohibit the publication of any details that might identify the victims or any witnesses, and the publication of any information presented at the bail hearing.

The offences are alleged to have occurred between Oct. 14 and Dec. 30, shortly after Mr. Boyle and his family returned to Canada from captivity in Afghanistan. Mr. Boyle and his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, were taken hostage by the Taliban-linked Haqqani network in 2012 while backpacking in Afghanistan; they had three children in captivity.

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A military intervention by the Pakistani government led to the Boyle family's rescue last October. They immediately settled in Smiths Falls, Ont., where Mr. Boyle's parents live upon their return to Canada. They have since moved to a low-rise apartment building in central Ottawa.

Earlier this month, The Globe and Mail reported that the federal government hired an international non-profit group specializing in helping hostages and their relatives to assist the Boyle family after their release.

The Boyle family also made headlines a week before Christmas when they met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his Parliament Hill office. Mr. Trudeau said his security advisers didn't raise any red flags about the meeting.

Mr. Boyle was married to Zaynab Khadr, the sister of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr, a decade ago. Ms. Coleman is his second wife.

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