SCC will hear appeal of Khadr return order
Canada's top court will hear the federal government's appeal of a court ruling that ordered it to seek the repatriation of Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who has been held at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for nearly seven years.
The Federal Court of Appeal upheld an earlier decision ordering the federal government to have the 22-year-old Canadian citizen returned to his home country.
But last week, the federal government said it would appeal the case to the Supreme Court. Now that the court has agreed to listen to the appeal, the hearing will begin on Nov. 13.
The Federal Court said in April that Ottawa's refusal to ask for Khadr's repatriation violates his constitutional rights to life, liberty and security under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the government should seek his return "as soon as practicable."
Khadr was only 15 when he was captured and detained for allegedly throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier, and his supporters maintain he should be treated as a child soldier and a victim of his surroundings.
Khadr's former U.S. military lawyer, William Kuebler, told CTV News channel on Friday that he expects the Supreme Court will rule against the appeal.
"It's important to keep in mind that the Canadian government has lost just about every time it's taken the Khadr case in front of the Canadian courts," said Kuebler, who has become an advocate for Khadr's release from Guantanamo.
"We're going to have the same result from the Canadian Supreme Court's decision a couple months down the road."
A Toronto native, Khadr is also the son of an alleged al Qaeda financier named Ahmed Said Khadr.
The younger Khadr has been incarcerated in the infamous offshore military prison since late 2002. He faces charges of murder and terrorism. U.S. authorities say he threw a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier during a battle in Afghanistan seven years ago, when he was 15 years old.
In June 2007, a U.S. military judge dismissed the charges against Khadr, ruling that he didn't fit the Bush administration's definition of an "enemy combatant." That decision was overturned three months later.
Khadr is believed to be the only Western prisoner remaining in Guantanamo Bay. Other countries such as Australia and the U.K. have successfully sought the repatriation of their citizens from the prison, in order to have them face justice in their native countries.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson wouldn't comment on the case Friday, saying it was before the courts.
However, the Foreign Affairs Department issued a statement saying Canada should first wait for the U.S. to make a decision about the military prison.
"It is in our interest to wait for the outcome of these decisions just put forward by President Obama. The government of Canada has taken its responsibilities with regards to Mr. Khadr, and we will also take our responsibilities when the U.S. government shares its decision on this case."
However, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said Ottawa should simply bring Khadr home now.
"We find it extraordinary that the Conservative government would take this right up to the Supreme Court when we're talking about a Canadian citizen," he said, speaking in Vancouver.
"A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian," he said.
With files from The Canadian Press