Canada to give apology, millions to compensate former Gitmo detainee
Omar Khadr was 15 years old when he was captured during a firefight in Afghanistan for allegedly flinging a hand grenade that killed a U.S. soldier. He became the youngest detainee at Guantanamo Bay prison.
The Canadian-born man, now 30, will receive an apology from the Canadian government and about 10.5 million in Canadian dollars, or about US$8 million, under a deal his lawyers negotiated last month, the Toronto Star and other publications reported this week.
Khadr’s lawyers argued that he was subjected to sleep deprivation and solitary confinement while in U.S. custody, and that the Canadian government violated Khadr’s rights by sharing intelligence information about him with the U.S.
In 2002, U.S. forces captured Khadr, whose father had ties to al-Qaida and had brought the boy to Afghanistan where he was being trained to make bombs.
While at Guantanamo Bay, Khadr pleaded guilty in a pre-trial agreement and was convicted of charges, including murder in violation of the laws of war and spying. He was sentenced to eight years of confinement and, under the terms of the agreement, could serve his remaining time in Canada.
He was transferred to his home country in September 2012. Khadr’s treatment while in detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay was investigated and brought before a U.S. military judge, who ruled there was “no credible evidence the accused was ever tortured … even using a liberal interpretation considering the accused’s age.”
In 2015, Khadr was released on bail and now lives in Edmonton, Alberta, in Canada.
Canada’s Conservative Party released a statement in protest of the apology and payment, saying, “Meet Canada’s newest multi-millionaire — Omar Khadr. … It is one thing to acknowledge alleged mistreatment, but it is wrong to lavishly reward a convicted terrorist who murdered an allied soldier who had a wife and two children.”
A lawyer for Tabitha Speer, the widow of the slain soldier in Afghanistan — U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Christopher Speer, has filed an application to redirect any of the money paid to Khadr to instead go to the widow and another solider injured in the battle, Sgt. Layne Morris, who lost an eye.
Khadr’s compensation is similar to that given to Canadian Maher Arar when an inquiry found that Canadian officials turned over information about him to U.S. officials, leading to his detention in Syria.