Conflict & Justice

Last westerner at Guantanamo asks for transfer to Canada


In this Pentagon-approved photograph of a sketch by Janet Hamlin, Omar Khadr addresses USAF Capt. Michael Grant on Oct. 25, 2010, in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Khadr filed a request on April 18, 2012, to serve his sentence in a Canadian jail.



Omar Khadr – convicted of killing a US soldier in Afghanistan a decade ago as a teen – has asked for a transfer to a Canadian prison from Guantanamo Bay, The Globe and Mail reported today.

The fate of the last westerner inside Gitmo – who was 15 when he killed Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer – now rests with the Canadian government.

“The government of Canada has just received a completed application for the transfer of prisoner Omar Ahmed Khadr,” Public Safety spokeswoman Julie Carmichael said, according to the Globe. “A decision will be made on this file in accordance with Canadian law.”

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is likely to accept Khadr back to Canada because of the political weight surrounding the case, the Globe said.

In a plea deal, Khadr admitted throwing a grenade that killed Speer outside Kabul in 2002.

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A US court sentenced him to 40 years in prison, but the deal said he would only have to serve eight years. Also, Khadr could apply to complete the sentence in his native Canada after a final year inside the Cuban detention center.

The deal created significant backlash and, as a result, military officials and US politicians want little to do with Khadr, AFP reported.

An anonymous source told AFP that Washington offered to pay for the transfer and “bend a number of their own rules to make that happen.”

“The US needs to get rid of this guy for their own reasons, and they are bending over backwards to make that happen,” the source said.

Khadr’s age and his family’s influence have complicated the case.

The Toronto-born Khadr is said to have met Osama bin-Laden after the boy’s militant family returned to Afghanistan in 1996, CBC News said.

Khadr’s father is thought to have bankrolled Al Qaeda.

However, Khadr’s lawyer questioned why the Canadian government has delayed this long, CBC reported.

Under his plea deal, the 25-year-old Khadr has been eligible for transfer since October.

“He will benefit from a lot of support as he moves through the correctional system and returns to Canadian society — something that he is anxious to do — and to become a contributing member of our society,” , John Norris told CBC.

There was no timeline on a decision from the Canadians.

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