Omar Khadr to stay out on bail after federal government drops appeal
Liberal government says it is reviewing its 'litigation strategy'
A court appeal launched by the former Conservative government seeking to rescind bail for Omar Khadr has been dropped by the Liberals as a part of the government's commitment to "review its litigation strategy."
A statement said the government respects the decision of an Alberta court "which determined that Mr. Khadr be released on bail in Canada" pending his appeal of his U.S. convictions and sentence.
Khadr's lawyer Dennis Edney welcomed the news, saying he was pleased the Liberal government had decided not to follow the Conservatives' lead on the file.
"I'm surprised it took so long," said Edney. "It was about four months ago when they asked for an extension to consider their position. So I was surprised. But it's done. And I'm pleased about that."
Khadr had been in custody since he was arrested in 2002 when he was 15 years old, until he was granted bail by a Canadian court in May 2015. He was accused of throwing a grenade in Afghanistan that killed an American soldier.
Sent to Guantanamo Bay in 2002, Khadr later confessed to an American military tribunal. He was sentenced to eight years behind bars in 2010.
Khadr was transferred to a maximum security facility in Edmonton in May 2013 to serve the remainder of his sentence. In February 2014 he was moved to the medium-security Bowden Institution in Innisfail, Alta.
In April 2015, an Alberta judge granted bail to Khadr pending the outcome of his appeal in the U.S. for his war crimes conviction. He was released on bail on May 7 last year.
Immediately after he was granted bail, the Conservative government said it would appeal the judgment in an effort to keep Khadr behind bars.
Shortly after bail was granted, then public safety minister Steven Blaney's office issued a statement disagreeing the ruling.
"We are disappointed with today's decision, and regret that a convicted terrorist has been allowed back into Canadian society without having served his full sentence," the statement read.
"Omar Khadr pleaded guilty to heinous crimes, including the murder of American army medic Sgt. Christopher Speer."
As part of his initial bail conditions, Khadr has to continue seeing a psychologist and will live with his lawyer, Dennis Edney, under a curfew from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Other bail conditions include:
- Interaction with his own family can only be made by telephone or video conference, and the conversations will have to be in English and be supervised.
- Any face-to-face visits with his family can only happen with prior written approval from a supervisor.
- Khadr is also prohibited from any communication with members of a terrorist group. He cannot apply for a passport, and his internet access will be limited and monitored.
In October 2015, Justice June Ross of the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench ruled Khadr could remove an electronic monitoring bracelet, be allowed to visit his grandparents in Toronto, and speak to them in a language other than English.
The judge also ordered the removal of monitoring software on the laptop computer Khadr uses for school. The software was interfering with the operations of the computer, and Alberta Justice had been unable to help resolve the problems.
Edney told CBC News that the only conditions remaining on his bail "are that he has a curfew in effect from 12 at night to 5 in the morning and I don't think that's harsh at all."
A spokesman from the Opposition leader's office said it did not have any comment on the decision at this time.