Canadian court releases former Guantanamo inmate Omar Khadr

Alberta Court of Appeals orders release of former Guantanamo inmate Omar Khadr rejecting conservative government’s objection

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Alberta Court of Appeals ordered the release of former Guantanamo inmate Omar Khadr on bail while he appeals convictions in the US, rejecting a last minute attempt by the Canadian government to keep him in jail.

"Mr Khadr you are free to go," Justice Myra Bielby said to a smiling Khadr in a courtroom filled with cheers from his supporters.

Khadr was the youngest ever detainee in Guantanamo when he was brought in from Afghanistan in 2002 following his capture in a firefight.

Canadian born Khadr spent 10 years in Guantanamo and handed to Canada in 2012 to serve his eight-year sentence ruled by a US military commission in 2010 for killing a US soldier.

Khadr said he only pleaded guilty to get out of Guantanamo Bay and be able to back in Canada, and now appealing the ruling.

"I am delighted, incredibly delighted. It has taken too many years to get to this point," Khadr's lawyer, Dennis Edney, told reporters outside the courthouse after the decision.

Bail conditions require Khadr to wear a tracking bracelet, live with his lawyer Edney, observe a curfew between 10pm and 7am, and have only supervised access to the Internet.

He will be allowed to communicate with his family only under supervision and only in English.

"He's met very few people outside a jail cell," said Nate Whitling, one of Khadr's lawyers.

Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who appealed the earlier decision by a lower court arguing that his release would harm Canada's relationship with the United States, was not pleased with the decision.

"We are disappointed with today's decision, and regret that a convicted terrorist has been allowed back into Canadian society without having served his full sentence," Canada's Public Safety Ministry spokesman Jeremy Laurin said.

"Omar Khadr pleaded guilty to heinous crimes, including the murder of American Army medic Sergeant Christopher Speer."

Contrary to Canadian government’s position, human rights advocates such as Amnesty International have long been working for the release of Khadr arguing that he has been denied access due to the process.

In 2010, the Canadian Supreme Court had ruled that Khadr's rights were breached by the Canadian government, which sent intelligence agents to interrogate him in Guantanamo in 2003 and 2004 and shared the information with the United States.

His lawyers say Khadr will speak to reporters on Friday after his release to tell his side of the story to the Canadian public.

TRTWorld and agencies