Omar Khadr lawyer says client is adapting well to life in Canada

The Edmonton lawyer who has devoted a decade to representing Omar Khadr says his client is adapting well to Canadian life.

Khadr on bail in Edmonton while he appeals convictions for war crimes in the U.S.

The Edmonton lawyer who has represented Omar Khadr for over a decade says his client is adapting well to Canadian life.

Dennis Edney was in Saskatoon on Wednesday to give a lecture at the University of Saskatchewan on the subject of the rule of law. 

In an interview with The Afternoon Edition host Garth Materie, Edney spoke about his decision to represent Khadr.

Khadr was sent to Guantanamo Bay from Afghanistan, accused of killing an American soldier in a firefight in 2002. He was convicted of war crimes in the U.S.

This spring, the 28-year-old was granted bail in an Edmonton court while he appeals his convictions.

The decision to give him bail was made by Alberta Court of Appeal Justice Myra Bielby, who shot down a bid by the Harper government to have Khadr remain behind bars. As part of his bail conditions, he must live with Edney in Edmonton. 

Edney has spent more than a decade on the case, working on his extradition to Canada and release on bail.

"I had no idea what I was doing from the outset. All I knew was this was wrong, I was a father who arrived in Guantanamo, I couldn't believe the abuses that I had witnessed and the treatment of a child, and how could I walk away?"

Khadr has recently asked for permission to have his bail conditions eased so that he can visit family members in Toronto. In a CBC interview in late 2004, Khadr's mother and sister expressed pro al-Qaeda views.

When asked how their views affected Khadr's legal process, Edney said it was a handicap.

"People didn't seem to understand they were associating Omar Khadr with the comments made by certain members of his family. And they've continued to do that since. And I've often said, 'Who amongst us is asked is required to justify the actions of relatives of ours?'"

Edney said his mother and sister have come to realize their comments were inappropriate.

"All they did was alienate the Canadian public. But the Canadian public itself should have realized that a 15-year-old boy shouldn't suffer for the sins of his family."

Edney said Khadr is adapting well in Edmonton. He said when people see Khadr in Edmonton many come up to him, introduce themselves and tell him that he's welcome. He is spending much of his time lately on his bike.

"He is someone who is going to be a wonderful attribute to the Canadian mosaic."