Former Guantanamo inmate granted bail in Canada

Omar Khadr granted bail in Canada after 13 years in prison, 10 of which he spent in Guantanamo

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Omar Khadr, a former Guantanamo inmate, was granted bail by an Alberta judge in Canada, giving him the chance of freedom after 13 years in prison.

Khadr was captured in Afghanistan in 2002 after a firefight with US soldiers and detained in Guantanamo at the age of 15, making him the youngest inmate there.

He was transferred to Canada after pleading guilty to killing a US soldier by throwing grenades and sentenced to eight years by the military commission in Guantanamo Bay.

The Canadian government was not pleased by the decision, with Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, saying “We are disappointed and will appeal this decision.”

“Omar Ahmed Khadr pleaded guilty to heinous crimes, including the murder of American Army medic Sergeant Christopher Speer. We have vigorously defended against any attempt to lessen his punishment for these crimes.”

In his bail ruling, Judge June Ross said that Khadr did not pose a danger to society, contrary to the government’s claims.

“He has a 12-1/2 year track record as a model prisoner, and a release plan supported by educators, mental health professionals, and his lawyers,” Ross wrote in his decision.

His supporters were pleased with the decision, with his lawyer Nate Whitling saying, “Omar is fortunate to be back in Canada where we have real courts and real laws.”

The US government used Guantanamo to imprison enemy combatants, mostly from Afghanistan and Iraq, without legally charging them for years - as in the case of Khadr.

Khadr said he pleaded guilty only to get back to Canada and out of Guantanamo, where he claims he was tortured tortured.

“The Canadian government should never have allowed Omar to be in Guantanamo,” Khadr’s lawyer Dennis Edney said.

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.

US President Barack Obama had promised upon coming to office to close down the Guantanamo prison camp and has significantly reduced the number of inmates by transferring them to third countries.

However, reports that some of the former inmates have reestablished contacts with groups working against the US have given strength to those critics who are against the closing of the facility.

A report published by the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) in early March said that one of the five prisoners released from Guantanamo in 2014 in exchange for captive US soldier Bowe Bergdahl had again associated with the Taliban.

TRTWorld and agencies