Omar Khadr vis­its with sis­ter re­main re­stricted, but can use in­ter­net freely

The Daily Observer - - NATIONAL NEWS - DEAN BEN­NETT

ED­MON­TON — For­mer Guan­tanamo Bay de­tainee Omar Khadr has been de­nied un­su­per­vised vis­its with his con­tro­ver­sial older sis­ter who has ex­pressed sup­port for al- Qaida.

Jus­tice June Ross ruled Fri­day that Khadr and his lawyer, Nathan Whitling, have of­fered noth­ing new to al­lay se­cu­rity con­cerns sur­round­ing Zaynab Khadr, who is cur­rently be­lieved to be in Su­dan.

Zaynab Khadr, 37, has spo­ken in favour of al- Qaida and was in­ves­ti­gated in Canada more than a decade ago for help­ing the ter­ror­ist network, but she was never charged.

She is re­port­edly plan­ning a trip to Canada, and 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 ar­gued in Court of Queen’s Bench that the re­stric­tion is no longer nec­es­sary. He said Khadr, 30, is old enough and ma­ture enough not to be swayed by any­one else.

“The pas­sage of time makes a big dif­fer­ence,” Whitling told Ross as Khadr sat be­hind him in the pub­lic gallery Fri­day. “The idea that some­one’s sis­ter will turn him into a dif­fer­ent per­son is no longer a con­cern.”

He noted that Zaynab “may have made some un­for­tu­nate me­dia state­ments” but there is no ev­i­dence of wrong­do­ing.

Bruce Hugh­son, a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, told Ross that Khadr has pro­vided no new ev­i­dence on Zaynab Khadr’s ter­ror­ism views that would jus­tify chang­ing the bail rules.

Ross agreed. She said the re­stric­tion was put in place for a rea­son and Whitling needs to show ev­i­dence — be­sides the pas­sage of time — to jus­tify amend­ing the or­der.

“The de­fence has not pro­vided rel­e­vant ev­i­dence to show a change of cir­cum­stances,” Ross said.

Out­side court, Whitling said that would re­quire an af­fi­davit from Zaynab Khadr who is out of the coun­try.

“It’s a pos­si­bil­ity I sup­pose,” he said.

Khadr is on bail while he ap­peals war crime con­vic­tions by a U.S. mil­i­tary com­mis­sion. He de­clined to make any com­ment out­side court.

Whitling said dis­ap­pointed.

“He does want to be able to con­tact his sis­ter and he doesn’t see how he’ll be able to speak to his nieces and neph­ews with­out hav­ing some sort of su­per­vi­sor present.”

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

In 2010, Khadr pleaded guilty to mul­ti­ple charges be­fore the mil­i­tary com­mis­sion, in­clud­ing to killing Speer, but has since said he can’t re­mem­ber if he tossed the grenade.

He has said he en­tered the plea to try to get out of Guan­tanamo, his client was where he says he was mis­treated, and into the Cana­dian jus­tice sys­tem.

He is now mar­ried and is mov­ing to Red Deer, south of Ed­mon­ton, to be­gin earn­ing a nurs­ing de­gree.

While await­ing his ap­peal hear­ing, Khadr has sought a loos­en­ing of a num­ber of bail re­stric­tions.

Ross did al­low a change to Khadr’s in­ter­net use. He had been re­stricted to per­sonal in­ter­net de­vices and sub­ject to checks.

Whitling ar­gued that the in­ter­net is avail­able ev­ery­where on mul­ti­ple de­vices — at friends’ homes and in pub­lic places — and that there is no way for Khadr to avoid it.

Ross agreed to ex­pand Khadr’s in­ter­net use as long as he doesn’t use the web to seek out ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda or or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Khadr also needs per­mis­sion to travel out­side Al­berta. Whitling said Khadr has made mul­ti­ple trips to On­tario to visit fam­ily with­out in­ci­dent and should only have to no­tify au­thor­i­ties when trav­el­ling out­side his home prov­ince.

Ross de­nied that re­quest. She said the cur­rent ap­proach seems to be work­ing fine with­out un­due hard­ship to Khadr.

His 15-year-old case ig­nited sharp and di­vi­sive de­bate among Cana­di­ans over ter­ror­ism, hu­man rights and the rule of law this sum­mer when it was re­vealed the fed­eral gov­ern­ment had set­tled a law­suit filed by him for a re­ported $10.5 mil­lion.

The pay­out fol­lowed a rul­ing by Canada’s Supreme Court in 2010 that Khadr’s char­ter rights were vi­o­lated at Guan­tanamo and that Cana­dian of­fi­cials contributed to that vi­o­la­tion.

COLIN PERKEL/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

For­mer Guan­tanamo Bay pris­oner Omar Khadr, 30, is seen in Mis­sis­sauga, Ont., in July. Khadr’s vis­its with his con­tro­ver­sial sis­ter will re­main re­stricted, but he has been granted more free­dom to use the in­ter­net.

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