Canada aware of Khadr plea deal: U.S. memo

A U.S. State Department memorandum shows the Canadian government was aware of Omar Khadr's plea deal with the U.S. government.

A U.S. State Department memorandum shows the Canadian government was aware of Omar Khadr's plea deal with the U.S. government, contradicting repeated denials by the Harper government such a deal had been made.

According to the memorandum, Canada and the United States exchanged two diplomatic notes on Oct. 23, two days before Khadr pleaded guilty to five criminal charges, including the murder of Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer during a battle in Afghanistan in July 2002.

"On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, the Department of State brings to the attention of the Government of Canada Mr. Khadr's agreement to plead guilty to all charges against him," the note said.

"The plea agreement includes various undertakings and conditions, including that duly authorized officials of the United States and Canada exchange diplomatic notes reflecting United States and Canadian Government support for [his] transfer to Canada to serve the remainder of [his] approved sentence after completing no less than one additional year in United States custody … "

Canadian officials, including Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, repeatedly said before, during and after Khadr's hearing in front of a U.S. military commission in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that Canada wasn't involved in any plea deal.

"Any plea bargain was between Mr. Khadr's officials, his lawyers, as well as the American government. The government of Canada is not involved in that," Cannon said Thursday,

Foreign Affairs even reiterated its stance on Sunday afternoon following Khadr's sentencing by a military panel to 40 years in prison, which was immediately capped to eight years because of the pre-hearing plea deal.

In response, the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., conveyed in a note that Canada acknowledged receipt of the State Department's note, that it took note of Khadr's deal to plead guilty to all charges against him and that it shared the U.S.'s view that were Khadr to request a transfer to Canada, such a transfer could be made under the Treaty between Canada and the United States on the Execution of Penal Sentences.

"The Government of Canada is inclined to favourably consider Mr. Khadr's application to be transferred to Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence or such portion of the remainder of his sentence as the national Parole Board determines …."

According to the U.S. diplomatic note, the American government would approve a prison transfer if Khadr were to ask for one and it understood that Canadian law would determine whether he served the full remainder of his sentence.

Both countries also acknowledged in their notes that a copy of their correspondences would be sent to Khadr's defence as well as to the military commission hearing the case.