Harper government worried about fallout from jailing of potato farmer, court filings show

WATCH: (March 24, 2014) Henk Tepper was arrested and held in a small basement cell with dozens of others for over a year, and the experience still haunts him.

Documents filed with the Federal Court show the former Harper government was concerned about the legal and political fallout from how it dealt with a New Brunswick potato farmer jailed for more than a year in Lebanon.

Henk Tepper languished in a Beirut jail cell in 2011 and 2012 on allegations he tried to export diseased potatoes to Algeria.

READ MORE: Case to go ahead for NB potato farmer

In 2013 he launched a lawsuit against the Canadian government, arguing it didn’t do enough to try to secure his freedom, and seeks $16.5 million in damages.

The case has yet to make it to trial, although a pre-trial conference is set for Monday in Ottawa.

Documents – including government emails – filed with the court show officials cautioned each other about saying anything publicly that could help in a Tepper lawsuit, and were upset with Senator Pierrette Ringuette of New Brunswick for keeping Tepper’s story in the news.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: No details why N.B. potato farmer has been detained in Lebanon

Although Tepper is free and back in New Brunswick, an Interpol Red Notice remains in place, keeping him from travelling outside of the country.