Justin Trudeau is suggesting that security officials raised no red flags when his office arranged last month for him to meet freed hostage Joshua Boyle and his family.
The prime minister says his office follows all the advice it's given by security officials and did exactly that in the case of the Boyle family.
Trudeau met with Boyle, his American wife and their three children in the prime minister's Parliament Hill office on Dec. 18.
On Dec. 30, Ottawa police laid 15 criminal charges against Boyle, including eight counts of assault, two counts of sexual assault, two counts of unlawful confinement and one count each of misleading police, uttering a death threat and administering a noxious substance.
The charges are related to incidents alleged to have occurred between Oct. 14 – one day after the Boyle family arrived back in Canada after five years of captivity in Afghanistan– and Dec. 30, 2017.
In the wake of the charges, questions have been raised about how someone alleged to have committed multiple crimes could have been granted a private meeting with Trudeau in the prime minister's inner sanctum.
The Prime Minister's Office has said Boyle requested the meeting. It is not clear if Boyle was under police investigation at that time and Trudeau did not address that issue Tuesday in his first public comments on the meeting.
However, he told a Halifax radio station that the advice of security officials was followed.
"We make sure that we follow all the advice that our security professionals and intelligence agencies give us and that's exactly what we did in this case," Trudeau told News 97.5.
Apart from the criminal charges against Boyle, some critics have questioned Trudeau's judgment in meeting with a person whose story has, at times, strained credulity. But Trudeau said he has met with a number of Canadians freed from ordeals overseas and the meeting with the Boyles was no different.
"We've had a number of successes in bringing people who were stuck in difficult situations overseas home, bringing them to safety. And the engagement that my office has directly with those cases has led me to meet with a number of people who've been released," he said.
"So these kinds of things are something that I do. I always try to defer to meeting with more people rather than fewer people and particularly people for whom we've been working hard over the past years. I think that's something that's important to do."
Boyle has said he and his pregnant wife, Caitlan Coleman, were backpacking in war-ravaged Afghanistan when they were abducted by the jihadist Haqqani network. They were held captive for five years – during which Coleman gave birth to three children – before being rescued by Pakistani commandos.
Boyle was previously married to Zaynab Khadr, whose father was associated with Osama bin Laden and whose brother, Omar, spent 10 years at the notorious U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay after allegedly killing a U.S. soldier in a firefight in Afghanistan when he was just 15.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2010 that Canadian authorities violated Omar Khadr's charter rights when they interrogated the minor at Guantanamo. Khadr subsequently sued the federal government for $20-million but the Trudeau government settled that litigation last year by agreeing to pay Khadr compensation, reportedly amounting to $10.5-million.