Once the youngest detainee at Guantanamo Bay, 28-year-old Canadian-born Khadr will be allowed to leave prison after 13 years
by Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams
Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who was 15 when he was shot and captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2002 and sent to Guantanamo Bay, was granted bail on Thursday after a judge in Alberta rejected a final effort by the Canadian government to keep Khadr in jail.
Court of Appeal Justice Myra Bielby granted the bail after announcing on Tuesday that she would need more time to make a decision on whether to release Khadr, now 28, as he appeals his Guantanamo Bay conviction.
The courtroom reportedly burst into cheers after Bielby announced her decision and said, “Mr. Khadr, you’re free to go.”
A lower court judge granted Khadr bail last month.
Toronto-born Khadr spent a decade in Guantanamo Bay after his capture. At 15, he was once the youngest detainee at the prison.
Khadr pleaded guilty in 2010 to killing an American soldier in Afghanistan eight years earlier, as part of a deal that would allow him to avoid a war crimes trial and be moved to a Canadian prison. He later recanted that admission, saying that it had been made under duress. Khadr said that he was tortured during numerous interrogations at Guantanamo Bay and the U.S.-operated Bagram Prison in Afghanistan, where he was briefly imprisoned before being sent to Cuba.
According to Reuters: “Khadr claims that during at least 142 interrogations in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, he was beaten, chained in painful positions, forced to urinate on himself, terrorized by barking dogs, subjected to flashing lights and sleep deprivation and threatened with rape.”
The Associated Press reported:
Khadr’s long-time lawyer Dennis Edney and wife have offered to take him into their home. Among the bail conditions imposed were that Khadr wear a tracking bracelet, live with the Edneys, observe a curfew between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., and have only supervised access to the Internet. Also, he can communicate with his family in Ontario only while under supervision and only in English.
“He’s met very few people outside a jail cell,” said Nate Whitling, one of Khadr’s lawyers.
“It’s going to be a major adjustment for him, but I’m sure he’s up for it.”