VANCOUVER – An American woman who has claimed refugee status after fleeing drug conspiracy charges in the U.S. has been released from jail in Vancouver, just hours after she turned herself in on Friday.
Renee Boje was ordered to surrender to authorities after the federal minister of justice denied her application to remain in Canada as a refugee.
Her husband, Chris Bennett had emerged from the courthouse on Friday morning to the cheers of supporters celebrating a judge's decision to release Boje on bail.
Earlier this week, federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler had dismissed Boje's application for refugee status, and ordered her to turn herself in.
Bennett, who is a marijuana activist, believes the minister's decision was politically motivated.
"He used my wife as a gold chip in the world of commerce with America, to continue ensured trade relations and other relations with America.
"He's showing no compassion in his decision, no evidence of human rights types of ideas. It's purely a political decision," says Bennett.
Boje was arrested in California eight years ago on marijuana conspiracy charges. She came to Canada a year later and has been fighting to remain here ever since.
Her lawyer says the next move will be to appeal her extradition order and ask for a judicial review of the justice minister's decision.
She faces a sentence of up to 10 years if convicted in in California. And B.C. Marijuana Party Leader Marc Emery wonders if Boje wouldn't be better off trying to strike some sort of deal with U.S. authorities.
"Part of me says, just maybe she could make some kind of deal for some kind of guaranteed sentence – if they're going to give her a sentence of one year or two years."
But Boje says she doesn't see that as an option. "I would never ever choose to return to the United States. I know that I would be treated with disrespect and inhumanely"
She says she won't give up trying to have the extradition order lifted, saying hers is a political struggle.
Boje has been ordered to be back in court on Sept. 30.