Omar Khadr back in court to seek right to unsupervised visits with sister
The case of former Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr will be back in an Edmonton courtroom on Thursday, where he will seek to ease his bail conditions, including a prohibition on contacting his controversial older sister.
“Mr. Khadr has been living under these conditions for a number of years and he’s demonstrated quite clearly that he’s not a threat of any kind to the community,” Khadr’s lawyer, Nate Whitling, said Wednesday.
“He’s obeyed all of his conditions, he hasn’t gotten into any trouble. So it’s now apparent there’s no need to continue any of these conditions.”
Khadr, 30, has been on bail for the past two years, pending an appeal of his convictions by a U.S. military commission for war crimes. But that case has not “advanced even one inch,” Whitling said, so Khadr — an Edmonton resident and recently married — could be on bail for years to come.
In an affidavit, Khadr said he has been accepted to a nursing program in Alberta and wishes to put his legal matters behind him. The federal government recently paid Khadr a $10.5-million settlement for its role in his treatment at the American military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“I am a law-abiding citizen and I wish to live free of court-imposed conditions,” Khadr wrote.
The bail conditions stipulate he can only have restricted visits with his sister, Zaynab Khadr, and only with prior written approval of his bail supervisor.
Zaynab Khadr, 37, became a notorious figure in Canada after she made comments that appeared to support the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
She grew up in Canada and Pakistan, but now lives in Sudan, after spending time in Turkey, Malaysia, and Egypt. She has been married several times and recently had a fourth child, according to court documents.
She was born in Ottawa but was for some time unable to get a Canadian passport after frequently reporting hers lost.
Omar Khadr wrote that he wants to spend time with her when she visits Canada.
“He’s a free-thinking adult,” Whitling said of his client. “He’s over 30 years old, there’s just no risk that could result with contact with Zaynab.
“He’s demonstrated very clearly in the time since he’s been released that he’s not a danger to anyone. So there’s no real risk that his sister or anyone will somehow brainwash him into becoming a terrorist.”
Khadr is also asking to remove the restrictions on his internet access and wants to be permitted to travel freely within Canada.
Khadr pleaded guilty to murder for the 2002 death of U.S. Sgt. Christopher Speer in Afghanistan, and to four counts related to terrorism. He made the pleas in Guantanamo Bay in 2010, where he endured torture and was imprisoned for years.
He was eventually released from American custody to serve the bulk of his eight-year sentence in Canada. The Canadian courts found he should be treated as a youth in the justice system because he was 15 when he was in Afghanistan.
Khadr was first granted bail in April 2015. He has been back in court several times since for different reviews of his bail conditions, such as the removal of an electronic monitoring bracelet and a relaxing of his curfew.
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