Khadr court ruling to be appealed by Ottawa

The federal government will appeal the court ruling that ordered it to remedy the breach of Canadian Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr's constitutional rights.
Omar Khadr, shown in this courtroom artist's sketch, attends a hearing at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in January 2009.

The federal government will appeal the court ruling that ordered it to remedy the breach of Canadian Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr's constitutional rights.

In a statement Monday, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced the government would take a decision by Federal Court Justice Russel Zinn last week to the Federal Court of Appeal.

The statement said the case "raises important issues concerning the Crown prerogative over foreign affairs."

In a separate letter to Zinn on Monday, government lawyers also said they were seeking a suspension of all deadlines to allow the Appeal Court to determine the government's motion.

In his ruling, Zinn said Ottawa had not met the standard set by the Supreme Court of Canada earlier in 2010 when it declared Khadr's rights had been violated at a U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Toronto-born Khadr, now 23, has been held at the prison since he was captured in 2002, at the age of 15, during a firefight in Afghanistan with U.S. soldiers. He faces five charges in connection with the incident, the most serious being murder of an American special forces soldier.

Khadr faces a maximum life sentence if convicted.

The top court noted that CSIS officials obtained evidence from Khadr under "oppressive circumstances" during interrogations at Guantanamo Bay in 2003, and then shared that evidence with U.S. officials.

But in his statement, Nicholson noted the Supreme Court also ruled it would not be appropriate for justices "to give direction as to the diplomatic steps necessary" to address the breaches.

Khadr's legal team in Canada has tried — through the courts — to force the Conservative government to demand Khadr be repatriated. He is the lone Western citizen remaining in detention at Guantanamo Bay. 

The government has so far refused to make any such request to U.S. officials, insisting it must respect the legal process in place.

Nicholson's statement reiterated the government's position that Khadr "faces very serious charges" and continues to receive consular support.

One of Khadr's Canadian lawyers said his legal team was not surprised by the government's decision to appeal but said he doubted the Appeal Court could reach a decision before Khadr's military trial begins on Aug. 10.

"The problem is we're extremely short on time," Nathan Whitling told CBC News in an interview from Edmonton.

In the meantime, he said Khadr's team is prepared to file a motion calling for the government to be found in contempt of Zinn's order.

"That's what we can do, and that's what we will do," he said.

Khadr to boycott trial

The decision comes on the same day as Khadr told a U.S. military judge in Guantanamo Bay that he intends to boycott his trial in August, saying there was no chance he would receive a fair trial.

"I'm going to get 30 years no matter what," said Khadr.

Khadr fired his U.S. civilian lawyers this week and sought to represent himself at the trial. He also tried to fire his court-appointed military lawyer but the presiding judge denied that request.