Judge eases Khadr's internet restrictions, keeps limits on travel, contacting sister
Published Friday, September 15, 2017 10:54AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 15, 2017 2:20PM EDT
The lawyer for former Guantanamo Bay inmate Omar Khadr says his client is “disappointed” that an Alberta judge decided not to ease restrictions on his ability to travel or a requirement that he have a supervisor when contacting his older sister Zaynab, who has previously expressed support for al Qaeda.
At the same time, Nate Whitling says that his client is “doing very well” and that the requirements that Khadr seek permission before travelling within Canada and only contact his sister only “in the presence of some responsible person who has been approved in advance by his bail supervisor” are more of an “inconvenience” than a “big deal.”
“Everything’s going just fine for him,” Whitling told reporters after the hearing in Edmonton on Friday.
“I don’t want to pretend this is a major burden on him,” he added.
At the hearing, the judge did lift one major bail restriction: Khadr will now be allowed to use internet-connected devices including smartphones, according to Whitling.
“He of course can’t access any sort of terrorist propaganda or anything like that over the internet but of course that’s just fine,” Whitling said. “He doesn’t want to anyway.”
The internet access should prove useful at college in Red Deer, Alta., where Khadr has been accepted to nursing school.
Whitling said it remains possible that the judge could later be convinced to allow Khadr unfettered access to his sister, but that “would require me to go get an affidavit from Zaynab, who is out of the country.”
Zaynab Khadr angered many Canadians by expressing support for al Qaeda several years ago. Court filings say that she recently had a fourth child, has lived in Egypt, Malaysia and Sudan, and is planning to visit Canada.
Khadr, who is on bail pending an appeal on U.S. war crimes convictions, said in an affidavit obtained by The Canadian Press ahead of Friday’s hearing, that he is now “an adult” able to “think independently.”
"Even if the members of my family were to wish to influence my religious or other views, they would not be able to control or influence me in any negative manner,” Khadr said in his affidavit.
CTV National News Alberta Bureau Chief Janet Dirks was inside the courtroom Friday. She says that Khadr attended the hearing, but did not speak to reporters.
Dirks reports that Whitling told the judge that his client is now married and has had no breaches of his bail conditions.
In 2010, Khadr pleaded guilty to killing U.S. soldier Christopher Speer with a grenade in Afghanistan in 2002, but has since said he did not toss the grenade. Khadr, now 30, was 15 at the time Speer died and many argue that he was a child soldier.
He was captured by American soldiers and imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he told Canadian intelligence officials that his jailers threatened him with rape, kept him in isolation and once used him as a human mop to wipe up urine.
Canada's Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that Khadr's charter rights were violated by Canadian officials while he was imprisoned.
Khadr sued the government, which settled the case for a reported $10.5 million earlier this year, in a decision criticized by the Conservative opposition and unpopular with Canadians.
With files from The Canadian Press