A Canadian judge ruled on the case of four Canadian men held in Syrian camps for their efforts as part of their alleged efforts with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
In a ruling Friday, Federal Court Justice Henry Brown directed the Trudeau Liberals to repatriate the men promptly, citing poor conditions in prison and the absence of a trial and charges.
"The conditions of the ... men are even direr than those of the women and children Canada has just agreed to repatriate," reads the ruling. "These individuals live in crowded and unsanitary conditions. They are held without charge or trial and lack adequate food and medical attention."
Brown noted that no one had heard from the men since 2019, but signs pointed to worsening circumstances for them.
"While women and children live in tents, at least some men and perhaps many are held in small rooms or cells that are overcrowded and unsanitary," he said.
The judge added that the four men are entitled to emergency travel documents from the federal government and to a legal representative in Syria to facilitate their release.
Among the men returning to Canada is Jack Letts, whose parents have publicly pushed the feds to help their son. They claim their son stood against ISIL, as there is no evidence he became a terrorist fighter overseas.
Letts is a Muslim convert from Oxford who travelled to IS-controlled areas of Syria and Iraq aged 18 in 2014. Infamously called "Jihadi Jack" by British media, Letts is one of many other British dual nationals in Syria.
The UK government previously stripped him of his British citizenship, given he is a Canadian national.
But Friday's ruling added there is no evidence he had been tried or convicted, let alone tried in a manner recognized or sanctioned by international law.
"We are overjoyed at today's ruling and believe we will finally get to see our son again after a long, arduous struggle against the Canadian government," said Sally Lane, mother of Jack Letts.
"While we are concerned about the lack of time-frame appended to the judge's declaration on the men's repatriation, we trust that the government will adhere to his exhortation to bring them home as soon as possible."
Aside from Letts, most of the other detainees remained anonymous during the court case, as well as the details of the repatriation agreement.
Global Affairs Canada had yet to make an immediate comment Friday.
On Thursday, the Trudeau Liberals agreed to repatriate six women and 13 children detained in Syrian camps after their families claimed that refusing to return them violates their rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
They demanded a declaration saying the government's lack of action was unreasonable, a formal request for repatriation of the detainees, emergency travel documents issued and authorization of a Canadian representative to bring about their return.
"I have heard from the children and the families, and they are 'over the moon' with happiness," said Lawrence Greenspon, lawyer to 22 of the 23 individuals soon to be repatriated.
"The judgement reaffirms that Canadians, no matter where they are if their rights are being violated, are entitled to a remedy," he said. "That remedy is for the Canadian government to act, where they can, to stop the violation."
Canada is one of several Western countries to face criticism over its failure to repatriate nationals who are among thousands of detainees held in camps and prisons since the collapse of ISIL in 2017.
Approximately 10,000 men and hundreds of adolescent boys are held in 14 overcrowded prisons in Syria's northeastern Hasakah region. Women and children live in two camps, al-Roj and al-Hol, that are home to around 60,000 people, including about 20,000 from Syria, 31,000 from Iraq, and up to 12,000 people from other countries, including 4,000 women and 8,000 children.