Omar Khadr wants changes to bail conditions

‘My life is held in suspension’, says the former Guantanamo Bay detainee

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr says he will continue to fight for his freedom.

Khadr, 32, was in an Edmonton courtroom Thursday to apply for changes to bail conditions which were imposed on him while he appeals war crimes convictions by a U.S. military commission.

He is asking for a Canadian passport to travel to Saudi Arabia and wants permission to speak to his sister on his own.

“When I initially asked for bail, I didn’t expect it to take this long,” Khadr said in a statement outside court. “My sentence initially should have ended this past October.

“This is not the first time my life has been held in suspension. I am going to continue to fight this injustice and thankfully we have an actual court system that has actual rules and laws.”

Khadr spent years in U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay after he was caught at age 15 and accused of tossing a grenade that killed special forces soldier Christopher Speer at a militant compound in Afghanistan in 2002.

RELATED: Omar Khadr to ask for Canadian passport to travel, permission to speak to sister

His lawyer, Nathan Whitling, told Court of Queen’s Bench Justice June Ross that his client has been a “model of compliance” and should have his bail conditions loosened. He said Khadr’s appeal in the U.S. hasn’t “moved a single inch” while his client has obeyed all the conditions of his release.

“There is still no end in sight,” he told Ross. “Mr. Khadr has now been out on bail so long and has an impeccable record.

“My goodness, when is this going to end?”

Khadr wants to perform the Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims once in their lifetime.

“There’s no good reason why he shouldn’t be able to do that,” Whitling said.

Khadr would also like to be able to speak on the phone or over Skype to his sister Zaynab Khadr. She has spoken in favour of al-Qaida in the past and was investigated in Canada more than a decade ago for helping the terrorist network, but was never charged.

The rules of Khadr’s bail allow him to meet with her but only in the presence of his bail supervisor or one of his lawyers.

Whitling said it’s preposterous Khadr could speak to his sister and develop any extremist views.

Khadr also needs permission to travel outside Alberta, and has made several trips to Toronto to visit his family and to deal with a civil lawsuit there seeking to enforce a multimillion-dollar judgment against him in Utah in favour of Speer’s widow.

Both provincial and federal Crown prosecutors argued the conditions are appropriate considering Khadr pleaded guilty to serious crimes and “he stands convicted.”

Doreen Mueller, a lawyer for the province, argued Khadr is not prevented from talking to his sister.

Federal prosecutor Bruce Hughson added that Khadr can speak to his sister as long as someone else is in the room, which could be his wife if that’s approved by a supervisor.

Whitling also asked the judge for an order that would allow Khadr to apply for parole even though he’s not serving a sentence — an unusual move that would put an end on Khadr’s conditions.

Ross reserved her decision until Dec. 21.

RELATED: Omar Khadr wants unfettered access to sister, other bail changes

“There’s enough unprecedented aspects to this application that I’m going to take some time to think about it,” she said.

Khadr’s case has ignited sharp and divisive debate since the summer of 2017 when it was revealed the federal government had settled a lawsuit filed by him for a reported $10.5 million. The payout followed a 2010 ruling by Canada’s Supreme Court that Khadr’s charter rights were violated at Guantanamo and Canadian officials contributed to that violation.

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said he hopes the court doesn’t grant Khadr’s request.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea that someone who has this track record has more access to members of his family who continue to speak out celebrating acts of terrorism, glorifying acts of violence,” he said in Ottawa. ”I think that’s just despicable.”

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Without federal aid, the future of B.C. air transport is bleak

Air traffic remains down 75 to 85 per cent

Community comes together to create outdoor classroom at Kootenay school

Brent Kennedy Elementary has a new learning space thanks to an inspired teacher Kalesnikoff Lumber

Up to 90 people forced to evacuate Sandman Inn in Castlegar on Monday night

A heating appliance in hotel started to burn dust and caused smoke alarm to go off

School District 20 reports COVID case in Rossland school

A case of COVID-19 was reported at Rossland Summit School on Monday

RDCK rescinds evacuation alert for properties near Talbott Creek fire

Cooler and wetter condition are expected to help crews fight fire in coming days

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Refresh of Liberal government’s agenda comes amid new looming COVID-19 crisis

Lockdowns saw fed spending soar to historic levels in effort to offset pandemic’s blow to Canadians’ livelihoods

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Most Read