A Toronto judge has released Abdullah Khadr from custody and stayed a hearing that would determine if he should be extradited to face terrorism-related charges in the United States.

Until his release on Wednesday, Khadr had been behind bars for 4 1/2 years.

Outside the court, he told reporters that his release "is going to be a new beginning for me in life."

"I want to just start anew now. I don't want to think about it anymore," said Khadr, now 29 years old.

He said it was "a very happy feeling" to be freed from custody.

The U.S. accuses Khadr of supplying weapons to al Qaeda when he was living in Pakistan years ago.

The CIA paid Pakistani authorities $500,000 to detain Khadr in October 2004.

For the next 14 months, Khadr was held in Pakistan without charge.

While in custody, he gave a statement to the FBI and RCMP which was used to form the case against him in the U.S.

Khadr gave further information when he returned to Toronto in December 2005. He was jailed the same month, when he was arrested on a U.S. warrant.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Christopher Speyer ruled Wednesday that the evidence American agents obtained from Khadr while he was in Pakistani custody years ago was "manifestly unreliable."

His lawyers had argued that the incriminating statements Khadr gave to authorities occurred as a result of torture he suffered in Pakistan more than five years ago.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson had little to say about Khadr's release Wednesday, saying the government looks "very carefully at these and all decisions that come from the courts."

The Crown now has 30 days to decide if it will appeal the ruling, said Dennis Edney, the lawyer for Khadr.

Khadr had been waiting for a ruling since April, when his extradition case wrapped up its final arguments.

His younger brother, Omar Khadr, is only days away from standing trial in Guantanamo Bay on war-crimes charges.

Both Khadrs are sons of the late Ahmed Said Khadr, a controversial figure who held close ties to Osama bin Laden and was accused to have raised money for al Qaeda. He died in 2003.

With files from The Canadian Press