Khadr’s appeal for unsupervised visits with sister denied
Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr has been denied unsupervised visits with his controversial older sister who has expressed support for al-Qaeda.
Justice June Ross ruled on Friday that Mr. 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-Qaeda 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 Mr. Khadr’s bail allow him to meet with her but only in the presence of his bail supervisor or one of his lawyers.
Mr. Whitling argued in Court of Queen’s Bench that the restriction is no longer necessary. He said Mr. Khadr, 30, is old enough and mature enough not to be swayed by anyone else.
He noted that Zaynab Khadr “may have made some unfortunate media statements” but there is no evidence of wrongdoing.
Bruce Hughson, a lawyer representing the federal government, told Justice Ross that Mr. Khadr has provided no new evidence on Zaynab Khadr’s terrorism views that would justify changing the bail rules.
Justice Ross agreed. She said the restriction was put in place for a reason and Mr. Whitling needs to show evidence – besides the passage of time – to justify amending the order.
Mr. Khadr is on bail while he appeals war crime convictions by a U.S. military commission. He declined to make any comment outside court.
Toronto-born Mr. 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.
He is now married and is moving to Red Deer, south of Edmonton, to begin earning a nursing degree.
While awaiting his appeal hearing, Mr. Khadr has sought a loosening of a number of bail restrictions.
Justice Ross did allow a change to Mr. Khadr’s Internet use. He had been restricted to personal Internet devices and subject to checks.
Mr. 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 Mr. Khadr to avoid it.
Justice Ross agreed to expand Mr. Khadr’s Internet use as long as he doesn’t use the Web to seek out terrorist propaganda or organizations.
Zaynab Khadr, sister of Omar Khadr, leaves court during a break in hearings in Ottawa in June, 2009.