VANCOUVER, British Columbia – A Chinese asylum seeker who boarded a flight from Hong Kong to Canada disguised as an elderly white man will remain in custody as officials try to confirm his identity.
A lawyer representing the Canadian Border Services agency to the country's refugee board Wednesday said that the man presented a Peoples Republic of China identity card upon arrival in Vancouver Oct. 29. There is a publication ban on the man's identity.
The man boarded an Air Canada flight in Hong Kong wearing a remarkably detailed silicone mask. An internal government intelligence report says he removed the disguise in a washroom mid-flight.
Lawyer Dan McLeod said his client is from mainland China and is concerned that information disclosed at the hearing might become available to Chinese authorities.
Daphne Shaw Dyck of the Immigration and Refugee Board concluded the man's identity has not been firmly established. His next detention hearing is December 8, but he could appear before then if his identity has been confirmed.
A Hong Kong official told the AP that the impostor was a mainland Chinese citizen transiting through Hong Kong. The official declined to be named because she is not authorized to release the information.
The official said the Chinese man likely escaped detection because he used his own travel documents and a genuine boarding pass when clearing immigration checkpoints in Hong Kong, and then swapped travel papers with a someone in the transit lounge just before boarding the flight to Vancouver, British Columbia.
A Canadian government official, who provided the Border Services alert to The Associated Press, said a U.S. passport was involved.
Jim Murray, a Canada Border Services lawyer, said Monday the refugee claimant identified himself as a member of an organization in China and the safety of some of the group's members is at risk. He did not specify the group involved.