Ex-Guan­tanamo pris­oner gets apol­ogy, mil­lions from Canada

For­mer in­mate re­ceives $8 mil­lion

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A for­mer Guan­tanamo Bay pris­oner who pleaded guilty to killing a US sol­dier in Afghanistan re­ceived an apol­ogy and a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar pay­ment from the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment af­ter a court rul­ing said his rights were abused. A gov­ern­ment state­ment yes­ter­day said de­tails of the set­tle­ment with Omar Khadr were con­fi­den­tial, but an of­fi­cial fa­mil­iar with the deal said pre­vi­ously that it was for 10.5 mil­lion Cana­dian dol­lars ($8 mil­lion). A dif­fer­ent of­fi­cial con­firmed that the money had been given to Khadr.

Both in­sisted on speak­ing anony­mously be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the deal pub­licly. The gov­ern­ment and Khadr’s lawyers ne­go­ti­ated the deal last month based on a 2010 Supreme Court of Canada rul­ing that Cana­dian of­fi­cials vi­o­lated his rights at Guan­tanamo. The gov­ern­ment re­leased a state­ment apol­o­giz­ing to Khadr. “On be­half of the gov­ern­ment of Canada, we wish to apol­o­gize to Mr Khadr for any role Cana­dian of­fi­cials may have played in re­la­tion to his or­deal abroad and any re­sult­ing harm,” said the state­ment from Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale and For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land.

The Cana­dian-born Khadr was 15 when he was cap­tured by US troops fol­low­ing a fire­fight at a sus­pected Al-Qaeda com­pound in Afghanistan that re­sulted in the death of an Amer­i­can Spe­cial Forces medic, US Army Sgt First Class Christo­pher Speer. Khadr, who was sus­pected of throw­ing the grenade that killed Speer, was taken to Guan­tanamo and ul­ti­mately charged with war crimes by a mil­i­tary com­mis­sion.

He pleaded guilty in 2010 to charges that in­cluded mur­der and was sen­tenced to eight years plus the time he had al­ready spent in cus­tody. He re­turned to Canada two years later to serve the re­main­der of his sen­tence and was re­leased in May 2015 pend­ing an ap­peal of his guilty plea, which he said was made un­der duress. Khadr lawyer Den­nis Ed­ney is­sued a state­ment laud­ing Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau for the set­tle­ment and crit­i­ciz­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of his pre­de­ces­sor, Con­ser­va­tive for­mer PM Stephen Harper.

‘Dis­gust­ing’ de­ci­sion

“Omar Khadr was aban­doned in a hellish place called Guan­tanamo Bay, for 10 years, a place internationally con­demned as a tor­ture cham­ber,” Ed­ney said. News that Khadr would re­ceive mil­lions first leaked ear­lier this week and sparked anger among many Cana­di­ans who con­sider him a ter­ror­ist. Op­po­si­tion Con­ser­va­tive leader An­drew Scheer called the de­ci­sion “dis­gust­ing” and said he would have avoided a set­tle­ment.

He ac­cused Trudeau of rush­ing to give Khadr the money so Speer’s widow would not have her claim for the money heard in court. Cameron Ah­mad, a spokesman for the prime min­is­ter, ve­he­mently de­nied the tim­ing of the set­tle­ment had any­thing to do with ef­forts the widow to get Khadr’s money. Khadr spent 10 years at Guan­tanamo, and his case re­ceived in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion af­ter some dubbed him a child sol­dier. He was the youngest and last Western de­tainee held at the US mil­i­tary prison in Guan­tanamo Bay, Cuba.

The rul­ing by the Supreme Court of Canada found that Cana­dian in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials ob­tained ev­i­dence from Khadr un­der “op­pres­sive cir­cum­stances,” such as sleep de­pri­va­tion, dur­ing in­ter­ro­ga­tions at Guan­tanamo Bay in 2003, and then shared that ev­i­dence with US of­fi­cials. Khadr’s lawyers filed a 20 mil­lion Cana­dian dol­lars wrong­ful im­pris­on­ment law­suit against the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment, ar­gu­ing it vi­o­lated in­ter­na­tional law by not pro­tect­ing its own cit­i­zen and con­spired with the US in its abuse of Khadr.

Goodale said Fri­day the set­tle­ment is un­re­lated to what hap­pened in Afghanistan. “It’s about the acts or the omis­sions of the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment af­ter Mr Khadr was cap­tured and de­tained. Those are facts are not in dis­pute, and there is no doubt about how the Supreme Court views them. The gov­ern­ment of Canada of­fended, quote, the most ba­sic stan­dards of the treat­ment of de­tained youth sus­pects,” Goodale said. “Reach­ing a set­tle­ment was the only sen­si­ble course,” he added, say­ing that not set­tling would surely have cost tax­pay­ers far more. The Cana­dian gov­ern­ment in­formed Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials of the set­tle­ment be­fore it was an­nounced.

The widow of Speer and an­other Amer­i­can sol­dier blinded by the grenade in Afghanistan filed a wrong­ful death and in­jury law­suit against Khadr in 2014 fear­ing Khadr might get his hands on money from his wrong­ful im­pris­on­ment suit. A US judge granted them $134.2 mil­lion in dam­ages in 2015. Lawyers for the Speer fam­ily and the in­jured sol­dier, Sgt Layne Mor­ris, filed an ap­pli­ca­tion in Cana­dian court last month with the hope that any money paid by the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment to Khadr would go to­ward the widow and Mor­ris. Mor­ris and Don Win­der, the lawyer for the Speer fam­ily and Mor­ris, did not re­spond to mes­sages seek­ing com­ment.

Khadr said in an in­ter­view with The Cana­dian Press that he hopes to fade into the back­ground and be­come a nurse. “I have a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence with pain, and I have an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of pain. With my past, I don’t know who’s go­ing to be com­fort­able with hir­ing me,” he said. “I just want to be the next per­son on the road that you don’t look twice at ...,” Khadr added. His lawyers have long said he was pushed into war by his fa­ther, Ahmed Said Khadr, whose fam­ily stayed with Osama bin Laden briefly when Omar Khadr was a boy. Khadr’s Egyp­tian-born fa­ther was killed in 2003 when a Pak­istani mil­i­tary he­li­copter shelled the house where he was stay­ing with se­nior AlQaeda op­er­a­tives.

— AFP

GUAN­TANAMO PROV­INCE: This im­age shows the floor shack­les within the soli­tary recre­ation room in Cell Block C in the ‘Camp Five’ de­ten­tion fa­cil­ity of the US Naval Sta­tion in Guan­tanamo Bay, Cuba.

—AP

ALBERTA: Omar Khadr walks out the front door of his lawyer Den­nis Ed­ney’s home to speak to the me­dia in Ed­mon­ton, Alberta.

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