Bedard to return to Canada on custody dispute charges

Updated: January 3, 2007, 8:55 PM ET
Associated Press

BALTIMORE -- Jailed in a child custody case, Olympic champion Myriam Bedard failed to win release Wednesday and soon will be transferred to Canadian custody.

Bedard, a Canadian who won two biathlon gold medals at the 1994 Olympics, did not speak during a short hearing before a federal judge. Her attorney, Kevin McCants, said afterward that his client was disappointed the judge did not free her on bail.

"She just said 'thanks for trying,"' McCants said.

Bedard was arrested Dec. 22 in Maryland and held on a warrant as an international fugitive. She's accused of violating a child custody order by bringing her 12-year-old daughter to the United States. Bedard's ex-husband, Jean Paquet, filed a complaint against her last month in Quebec City.

Bedard had been in the custody of U.S. marshals at the Howard County Detention Center since the arrest. Her daughter, Maude, is back in Canada.

Outside the courthouse Bedard's Quebec attorney, John T. Pepper Jr., said Canadian authorities were not acting as quickly in extraditing Bedard as they have with less well-known defendants. A U.S. prosecutor said the transfer would take place within 36 hours.

Pepper asked how it could "take 36 hours for a plane to take off from Quebec City and fly to Washington and fly her back. If the plane left at seven this morning she'd be in Quebec City and could have appeared this afternoon on the charges."

McCants said Bedard told him she believes the delay is political retaliation for her involvement in a scandal involving a government sponsorship program. Bedard testified in 2004 in Canada that she had been forced to quit a job at Via Rail in 2002 after raising concerns about the company's dealings with an advertiser.

On Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge James K. Bredar said he could not grant Bedard bail because of a U.S. extradition treaty with Canada which limits bail to "extraordinary circumstances."

Bedard faces up to 10 years for child abduction, but McCants contends she did not break the law. McCants said Paquet acted prematurely in filing the custody complaint.

"He thought he wasn't going to get his week" of custody during the Christmas holiday, the attorney said.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press