The Canadian government has not committed to repatriating Omar Khadr as part of the Guantanamo Bay prisoner's plea deal with U.S. authorities, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon says.


Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon says a plea agreement between Omar Khadr and U.S. officials does not involve Canada. ((Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press))

Cannon's comments on Thursday come despite defence lawyers insisting Canada has signed off on an agreement that would see the Toronto-born Khadr returned to Canadian custody after serving one year in the U.S. detention facility in Cuba.

"Any plea bargain was between Mr. Khadr's officials, his lawyers, as well as the American government," Cannon said in response to multiple questions on the Khadr case during a news conference in Ottawa.

"The government of Canada is not involved in that."

Opposition parties and Khadr's defence lawyers have decried the Conservative government's refusal to intervene in the case of Khadr, the only remaining westerner in custody at Guantanamo Bay.

The minister again refused to speak to what could happen after Khadr is sentenced, saying the military commission was still ongoing.

"They’re in a sentencing mode in the United States and until such time as this procedure is completed, our position is to respect the initiatives that the government of the United States has undertaken," he said.

In a plea deal, the 24-year-old Khadr pleaded guilty on Monday to killing Speer and four other charges, including attempted murder, conspiracy, providing material support to terrorists and spying.

According to a document listing facts in the case, Khadr killed Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer when he threw a grenade at him following a firefight between al-Qaeda operatives and U.S. forces in Afghanistan on July 27, 2002.

Khadr was 15 when he was taken into custody after taking part in a battle against U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

Canada has signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which protects children-turned-soldiers from prosecution.

Cannon said he would not speak to "hypothetical" questions from reporters on the Canadian government's position on child soldiers, saying only that Canada is a party to a number of UN conventions.

"And we live up to our obligations under the UN conventions," he said.