Omar Khadr wants changes to bail conditions

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

Almost every health region in the province saw an increase in overdose calls last year. (Blackpress files)
Overdose call numbers reach five-year-high in Maple Ridge.

BC Emergency Health Services responded to almost 500 local calls in 2020

Cam Blake released his first album called <em>Bad Vacation</em> on Jan. 15. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge musician releases first album

Cam Blake’s first album, Bad Vacation, released Jan. 15

Members of the Maple Ridge Disc Golf Club team up to update the “frolf” course at Thornhill Park. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge Disc Golf Club helps upgrade local course

Thornhill Park frisbee links usage has skyrocketed since pandemic

Cody Malawsky at the box lacrosse provincials in 2019. As the highly skilled player adds size he will dominate junior, predicts longtime coach Daren Fridge. (Tim McCormick/Special to The News)
Ridge Meadows Hospice Society volunteer Jill Constable. (Ridge Meadows Hospice Society/Special to The News)
Ridge Meadows Hospice celebrating 25 years

Celebratory White Dove Dinner raising money for support and grief programs

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
‘You can’t make this stuff up’: Stories from the B.C. CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

Snow is forecasted to appear in parts of Metro Vancouver this weekend. (Black Press Media files)
Snow forecasted for parts of Lower Mainland this weekend

Environment Canada is predicting flurries and snow from Saturday to Monday evening

Most Read