Tag Archives: Ahmed Khadr

Canadian Held at Guantánamo Bay Is Repatriated – NYTimes.com

One of the most shameful episodes of this illegal war of terror the USNA is waging and the

Scene of the Firefight in which Omar Khadr was...

Scene of the Firefight in which Omar Khadr was captured (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

war crimes being committed by the USNA in the name of the US citizenry who don’t protest at all has finally come to an end. Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen who was seized as a 15-year-old child in 2002.

During harsh interrogation, a war crime by itself, without an attorney present, Omar finally agreed to tell the interrogators that he threw the grenade that killed a US Army sergeant. Simply treating Omar the way the USNA did makes George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is also a violation of the UN Covenant on the Rights of the Child. At least Omar is home in Canada where he will be eligible for parole this year. And in a Canadian court, where he will likely receive much more justice than and USNA court would provide.

Published: September 29, 2012

OTTAWA — Omar Khadr, the only Canadian citizen held at the Guantánamo Bay detention center in Cuba, was returned to Canada early Saturday morning, the Pentagon and the Canadian government announced.

This image of Omar Khadr was released by the American government in October 2010.

This image of Omar Khadr was released by the American government in October 2010.

Unlike other Western countries that brought their detainees home from the prison at the naval base, the Conservative government in Canada had vigorously resisted calls and a court order to bring back Mr. Khadr, who was 15 years old in 2002 when he was captured by American forces in Afghanistan.

Vic Toews, the public safety minister, offered no explanation on Saturday for the government’s change of mind.

“Omar Khadr is a known supporter of the Al Qaeda terrorist network and a convicted terrorist,” Mr. Toews said, reading from a statement at a news conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba. “I am satisfied the Correctional Service of Canada can administer Omar Khadr’s sentence in a manner which recognizes the serious nature of the crimes that he has committed and ensure the safety of Canadians is protected during incarceration.”

Mr. Khadr, who was held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, was sent to Canada on Saturday.

Mr. Khadr, who was held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, was sent to Canada on Saturday.

Mr. Khadr pleaded guilty before a military commission in October 2010 to the killing of an American sergeant, Christopher Speer, with a grenade during a battle in 2002 that also left Mr. Khadr severely wounded. American military prosecutors agreed to an eight-year sentence with no credit for the time Mr. Khadr had already served at Guantánamo. Under a plea agreement he was to have served the first year of the sentence in American custody before being returned to Canada to serve the balance of the sentence.

“The United States government has returned Khadr to Canada, where he will serve out his remaining sentence,” the Department of Defense said in a statement issued in Washington. “The United States coordinated with the government of Canada regarding appropriate security and humane treatment measures.”

Mr. Khadr was flown by the American military to a Royal Canadian Air Force base in Trenton, Ontario, and taken by van to the Millhaven Institution, a maximum-security prison southwest of Ottawa in Bath, Ontario. Under Canadian law, he will be eligible to apply for parole next year.

Because Mr. Khadr was a juvenile at the time of his arrest, several human rights groups in Canada were particularly troubled by his treatment as an adult by the American military justice system. Those concerns were shared by the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled in 2010 that Canadian agents had violated Mr. Khadr’s rights by interrogating him at Guantánamo Bay.

“Interrogation of a youth, to elicit statements about the most serious criminal charges while detained in these conditions and without access to counsel, and while knowing that the fruits of the interrogations would be shared with the U.S. prosecutors, offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects,” the court said in its decision.

At that time, however, the Supreme Court overturned a Federal Court of Canada ruling ordering the government to repatriate Mr. Khadr after finding that it was outside of its powers to tell the Canadian government how to conduct foreign affairs. But it did tell the government to find a way to ensure that its conduct of foreign affairs complied with Canada’s charter of rights and freedoms.

Brydie Bethall, a lawyer for Mr. Khadr who had been seeking a court order for his return to Canada, said she was relieved that her client had been returned.

“It was a painfully long time coming, but it’s the right result,” she wrote in an e-mail. “Justice has prevailed over politics today.”

Errol P. Mendes, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, said that the government resisted Mr. Khadr’s return largely because it was unpopular with its core base of Conservative voters.

“There are two sides to the Canadian people,” Mr. Mendes said. “One says let him rot in jail, the other side shares the sentiment that this does not reflect Canadian values about the treatment of child soldiers.”

Ms. Bethall said that Mr. Khadr’s status as a juvenile offender must be considered at his parole hearings.

As even one of his American lawyers once acknowledged, Mr. Khadr’s case with the Canadian public was not helped at times by the other members of his family.

Born in Toronto, Mr. Khadr was mainly raised in Pakistan and Afghanistan by his father, Ahmed Said Khadr, who emigrated to Canada in 1977 from Egypt and eventually became a Canadian citizen. American and Canadian intelligence services identified him as a senior member of Al Qaeda. About a year after Omar Khadr’s capture, Ahmed Khadr was killed by Pakistani forces near the border with Afghanistan.

Omar Khadr’s mother, Maha, and his sister Zaynab lived on and off in Canada. In 2004, they provoked a sharp public reaction after appearing in a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary about the family in which they seemed to condone the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and condemned Canadian social values. They briefly operated a blog that also contained provocative remarks.

One of Mr. Khadr’s brothers was paralyzed in the fight that killed their father, and another was released from jail after successfully fighting extradition to the United States.

Hilary Homes, a security and human rights campaigner for Amnesty International Canada, said that Mr. Khadr’s return was not the end of his case. “The book is not closed,” said Ms. Homes, who is based in Ottawa.

While she said that her organization was still concerned about Mr. Khadr’s treatment, particularly his young offender status, it will not push for his immediate release.

After the Supreme Court finding that his civil rights had been violated, Mr. Khadr filed a civil lawsuit against the Canadian government that Professor Mendes predicted would produce embarrassing details about its conduct.

Baher Azmy, the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, called for Mr. Khadr’s release.

“Canada should not perpetuate the abuse he endured in one of the world’s most notorious prisons,” he said. “Instead, Canada should release him immediately and provide him with appropriate counseling, education and assistance in transitioning to a normal life.”

Jennifer Turner, a researcher with the American Civil Liberties Union, said that she hoped “the Canadian government will give Omar Khadr a meaningful opportunity for rehabilitation and reintegration into society, which Canada is required to provide under the child-soldier treaty that Canada itself helped establish.”

Mr. Khadr was originally scheduled to be the first detainee to stand trial in the revamped military commission system under the Obama administration, alarming officials with the prospect that the first case would be that of a former child soldier.

He admitted to a military judge that he threw a grenade that killed Sergeant Speer during a firefight and that he had planted 10 roadside bombs for Al Qaeda. The admission avoided a trial. He was convicted of murder and attempted murder in violation of the law of war, support of terrorism and spying.

The Obama administration notified Congress in April that it intended to repatriate Mr. Khadr in April. But his transfer was delayed, which officials attributed to bureaucracy on both sides of the border. Mr. Mendes said the Canadian government probably acted because of increasing pressure, and most likely impatience, from the Obama administration.

Canadian Held at Guantánamo Bay Is Repatriated – NYTimes.com.