Omar Khadr asks Edmonton judge to loosen his bail conditions
Ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee wants a passport, permission to speak to his sister
Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr has been a "model of compliance" and should have his bail conditions loosened, his lawyer argued Thursday in an Edmonton courtroom.
Khadr, 32, is seeking to have his bail conditions changed so he can obtain a Canadian passport and travel to Saudi Arabia. He also wants permission to speak to his sister.
His lawyer, Nathan Whitling, told court that Khadr's appeal in the United States hasn't "moved a single inch" while his client has obeyed all the conditions of his release.
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Whitling said the court should reduce the conditions on Khadr's freedom as much as possible.
Khadr spent years in U.S. detention after he was captured at age 15 and accused of tossing a grenade that killed special forces soldier Christopher Speer at a militant compound in Afghanistan in 2002.
He was first imprisoned at the Bagram U.S. military base in Afghanistan then transferred to the prison at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base in Cuba. He was ultimately charged with war crimes by a military commission.
After pleading not guilty to five war crimes charges, including murder, he later changed his plea to guilty and was sentenced to eight years plus the time he had already spent in custody.
He returned to Canada two years later to serve the remainder of his sentence and was released in May 2015 pending an appeal of his war crime convictions in the United States. He has repeatedly argued that his admissions of guilt were made under duress.
Whitling told the court on Thursday that Khadr has an impeccable record.
Khadr wants to perform the Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It's a mandatory religious duty for Muslims once in their lifetime.
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He would also like to be able to speak on the phone or over Skype to his sister, Zaynab Khadr, who has spoken in favour of al-Qaeda and was investigated in Canada more than a decade ago for helping the terrorist network, though she was never charged.
The rules of Khadr's bail allow him to meet with her only in the presence of his bail supervisor or one of his lawyers.
After the hearing, Khadr spoke briefly to reporters gathered outside the courthouse.
"When I initially asked for bail, I didn't expect it to take this long," he said. "My sentence sort of initially should have ended this past October. But here I am.
"The Canadian government has put this court in a position where it has to enforce a judgment and a ruling that was derived from torture. The same torture that the Canadian government has apologized for.
"This is not the first time my life has been held in suspension. And I'm going to continue to fight this injustice, and thankfully we have an actual court system that has actual rules and laws."
Khadr received a $10.5-million legal settlement and an official apology from the Canadian government last year.
Justice June Ross has reserved her decision.
She told the court there are enough unprecedented aspects to this application that she will take some time to think about it.
with files from CBC News