Toronto Star

Court denies Khadr solo visits with his sister


EDMONTON— 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 Friday that Khadr and his lawyer, Nathan Whitling, have offered nothing new to allay security concerns about Zaynab Khadr, believed to be in Sudan.

Zaynab Khadr, 37, 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 his client was 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.

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