Omar Khadr eligible for day parole in 3 months

Controversial convict Omar Khadr – who was recently transferred to Canada after a decade in the U.S. run Guantanamo Bay detention centre – could be released from prison on day parole in less than three months.

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee now housed at Millhaven Institution in Ontario

Omar Khadr listens to closing arguments at his trial on Oct. 30, 2010, at Guantanamo Bay in this court sketch. (Janet Hamlin/Canadian Press)

Controversial convict Omar Khadr could be released from prison on day parole in less than three months.

According to a timetable provided to CBC News by the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), Khadr is eligible for day parole on Jan. 1, 2013 – and for full parole seven months later, on July 1, 2013.

On day parole, offenders work, volunteer or go to school during the day then report back to a community-based residential facility known as a halfway house; while on full parole the offender lives on their own but reports regularly to a parole officer.

Khadr, 26, returned to Canada last weekend after 10 years in the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison camp, ending a lengthy jurisdictional tug-of-war between Canadian and U.S. government officials.

Always a polarizing figure, some see Khadr as a child soldier and victim of the war on terror, while others view him as a ruthless murderer and unrepentant jihadist.

Khadr was 15 years old at the time he threw a fatal grenade in a four-hour firefight and was subsequently captured.

In October 2010, he pleaded guilty before a U.S. military commission to five war crimes, including the murder of American medic Sgt. Christopher Speer. He received an eight-year sentence, and was transferred back to Canada last weekend to serve out the remainder of his jail sentence.

Khadr has not filed an application yet

Caroline Douglas, director of communications for the Parole Board of Canada, said an offender must apply for day parole – and can choose to or not. But full parole reviews are mandatory unless the offender waives his or her right.

Khadr's lawyer, John Norris, told CBC News that no application has been made to date.

Scheduling and length of time between an application and hearing varies and depends on "a host of variables," but the fact that an offender was convicted in another jurisdiction has no bearing on the process, Douglas said.

Khadr’s statutory release date is Sept. 20, 2016, and his warrant expiry date is two years later – on Sept. 20, 2018.

Khadr is now incarcerated at Millhaven Institution in Bath, Ont. He will be eligible for family visits and escorted and unescorted trips into the community, but CSC would not provide details of eligibility.

"For privacy reasons, we can not disclose the specifics of an offender's case," said CSC spokeswoman Suzanne Leclerc.

Minister will trust Correctional Service of Canada decision

Announcing Khadr’s return to Canada last weekend, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews called him a "known supporter of the al-Qaeda terrorist network and a convicted terrorist" – a characterization and statement some criticized as prejudicial to the offender’s future chances for release.

Khadr's lawyers see their client as a strong candidate for parole based on his good behaviour while in detention.

Asked if the minister would intervene to prevent Khadr from gaining day passes or parole, his spokeswoman said Toews is entrusting the appropriate agencies.

"He is satisfied the Correctional Service of Canada can administer Omar Khadr's sentence in a manner which recognizes the serious nature of the crimes that he has committed and ensure the safety of Canadians is protected during incarceration," said director of communications Julie Carmichael.

"Any decisions related to his future will be determined by the independent Parole Board of Canada in accordance with Canadian law."