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Canadian farmer freed from Lebanese jail after 1 year

Henk Tepper accused of selling rotten potatoes; arrested on Interpol notice.

Henk tepper beruit prisonEnlarge
A Lebanese security man stands guard in front of the Justice Palace in Beirut, where Canadian farmer Henk Tepper spent that last year. Algeria accused Tepper of selling rotten potatoes, and he was arrested on an international Interpol notice. (ANWAR AMRO/AFP/Getty Images)

Henk Tepper, the Canadian famer accused of selling rotten potatoes to Algeria, should arrive home today after spending the last year in a Lebanese jail, the National Post reported.

The New Brunswick man was expected to land in Ottawa today.

“The Tepper family is extremely happy to have been informed by the Government of Lebanon that Henk Tepper is no longer being detained in Beirut and is currently on a plane back to Canada,” Sen. Pierrette Ringuette said in a press release.

Tepper remained in jail because Lebanon doesn’t have an extradition agreement with Algeria, where Tepper is still wanted, The Associated Press reported.

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Lebanese police arrested Tepper during a Canadian agricultural mission there on March 23, 2011, the Canadian Press said. Police arrested him on an Interpol notice.

Algerian officials said Tepper forged documents that said the potatoes were fit for human consumption. He faces five years in prison if convicted.

Tepper’s farm is one of the largest in the Maritimes, and has exported produce to Cuba, Venezuela, Lebanon and Algeria, but has been in receivership since June, CP said.

Tepper’s lawyers argued the shipment passed all Agriculture Canada inspections before being exported.

His family had been worried about Tepper’s health, CP said.

“I hope that we can find a timely solution that will be satisfactory for both our countries and will allow for Mr. Tepper’s return to Canada,” Canada’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Diane Ablonczy, wrote in a letter to the Lebanese government last week. “I welcome your guidance and advice on how to best advance the case of Mr. Tepper.”

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/canada/120331/canadian-farmer-freed-lebanese-jail-after-1-year