Did this man predict Sept. 11?
Strange story of a jailed spy unfolds in Toronto court
Tue Oct 30, 2001
While jet fighters drop bombs on Afghanistan in the wake of the World Trade Center tragedy and FBI agents search for the source of anthrax letters, an incredible tale has been unfolding in a Toronto courtroom.
It draws together the threads of a narrative some describe as "stunning and fantastic," while others wonder if it isn't just the ravings of a lunatic.
The man telling the tale in sworn court affidavits is Delmart Edward Vreeland, who faces credit fraud charges in Canada and in the United States, where officials are attempting to extradite him.
The 35-year-old American claims to be a lieutenant in a U.S. Navy intelligence unit — a spy who says he knew in advance about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
In his affidavit, he says he tried to warn Canadian intelligence about possible terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon, along with targets in Ottawa and Toronto, but was written off as a petty criminal.
So he wrote the warning on a piece of paper, sealed it in an envelope, and handed it to jail guards a month before the attacks. They opened the letter Sept. 14 and immediately forwarded the information to Ottawa.
His lawyers, Rocco Galati and Paul Slansky, are fighting extradition, telling the court he could face treason charges and the death penalty in the U.S.
In the first stage of hearings, federal prosecutor Kevin Wilson yesterday told Mr. Justice Archie Campbell of the Superior Court of Justice that he was skeptical of Vreeland's claims.
"Is his story possible? I can't go so far as to say it's not possible, but it's not plausible," Wilson said.
The prosecutor said he has seen no evidence to back Vreeland's claim that Canadian embassy official Marc Bastien was murdered in Moscow in December. Canadian officials said the 35-year-old computer specialist died of natural causes.
So, who is Delmart Edward Joseph Michael Vreeland II?
According to court documents, Vreeland was 18 when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1984.
Two years later, Vreeland says in his affidavit, he joined a special unit investigating drug smuggling into the U.S. by naval personnel. But the navy says Vreeland was "unsatisfactorily discharged" in 1986.
Vreeland also claims he gathered information on a crime family in Detroit and testified against them in 1998.
Late last year, he says, he came to Canada to help smuggle Russian military secrets out of Moscow, including Russia's plan to counter the American "Star Wars" missile defence system. While in Moscow, Vreeland says, he met Bastien.
Vreeland was arrested by a police fugitive squad nine months ago. While in Toronto (Don) Jail, he met Nestor Fonseca, who was facing drug smuggling charges and extradition to the U.S. The court documents say Fonseca allegedly told Vreeland of his plans to kill a Toronto judge and others. Fonseca was charged with counselling to commit murder.
Galati and Slansky said in the documents that Vreeland should be put into the witness protection program in Canada because he is the main witness against Fonseca.
Galati writes in one document: "Neither myself, nor Mr. Slansky ... have seen anything as incomprehensibly frustrating, inexplicable and irresponsibly absurd ... as the RCMP's position that they are not interested in reviewing Mr. Vreeland's information."
It would appear, Galati says in the brief, that the Canadian and American governments have written Vreeland off as a "nut case," which he says is a "patently absurd conclusion."