From the Toronto Star
Nearly three months after Canadian officials in Africa dismissed her as an "imposter" and stopped her from returning to her 12-year-old son in Toronto, Suaad Hagi Mohamud is coming home.
Ottawa is preparing emergency travel documents to bring to Toronto, a spokesperson for Canada Border Services Agency said this morning. No further details, such as when she might be on her way home, were immediately available.
Results of a DNA test released last night show a 99.99 per cent match with her son, Mohamed Hussein, who has been waiting for his mother since an airport official in Nairobi, Kenya, stopped her for not looking like her Canadian passport picture.
The Star broke the news of the DNA results to Mohamud.
"Oh my God," she said by phone in Nairobi, where for weeks she has depended on charity for food and accommodation. "Thank you very, very, very, very, very, very much. I’m glad this is over now."
Mohamud went to federal court last month to force Ottawa to test her DNA in order to prove her identity. Her Toronto lawyer, Raoul Boulakia, said last night he would immediately ask Ottawa to issue Mohamud an emergency passport, ask Kenya to let her go and then get her on a plane home.
"I have a teleconference with the judge in the morning," Boulakia said.
For every Canadian, Mohamud’s ordeal raises the question: What proof of identity will Ottawa accept from a stranded citizen abroad?
On May 21, after a Kenyan airport official suggested Mohamud’s lips and eyeglasses were different from her four-year-old passport photo, the hapless traveller laid out all her ID at the Canadian High Commission.
She displayed her Ontario driver’s licence, OHIP card, social insurance card and Canadian citizenship certificate.
She showed her credit card, two bank cards, Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum card, Humber River Regional Hospital Card and a recent dry cleaning receipt from One Hour Brighten Cleaners on Lawrence Ave. W., near her Toronto address.
She produced a letter from her Toronto employer, ATS courier service, about a recent promotion.
The high commission rejected them all. Worse, instead of helping Mohamud, they sent her voided passport to Kenyan immigration authorities to help them prosecute her.
"We have carried out conclusive investigations including an interview and have confirmed that the person brought to (us) on suspicion of being an imposter is not the rightful holder of the aforementioned Canadian passport," Canadian High Commission first secretary Liliane Khadour wrote to Kenyan immigration authorities on May 28.
Mohamud faced serious charges: being in Kenya illegally and using a passport not her own. The penalty would be either jail in Kenya or deportation to her native Somalia.
On two occasions, federal officials in Canada appeared to suggest Mohamud had switched identities with a sister. She has four half-sisters by the same father.
But the DNA results confirm Mohamud is not an aunt. In statistical terms, she is 282 times more likely to be the boy’s mother, says a letter faxed to her lawyer from laboratory director Debra Davis of the Vancouver testing company Orchid Cellmark.
With Canadian officials refusing to help her, Mohamud surrendered to Kenyan authorities on June 3 and was locked in Langata Women’s Prison. She got out after eight days when a friend posted bail.
The Canadian High Commission reopened her case only after the Star began reporting on her plight on July 1. Officials agreed to take fingerprints, and when they proved to be no use, agreed to take DNA.
Ottawa’s attitude toward her had remained consistent.
After Mohamud surrendered fingerprints and DNA, Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Emma Welford said she could not comment because Ottawa must protect the woman’s privacy.
Two weeks ago, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Mohamud must try harder to prove herself: "The individual … has to let us know whether or not she is a Canadian citizen," he said.
Asked if he would accept a DNA match, Cannon replied last week through a spokesperson: "I cannot answer a hypothetical question."