Former U.S. special forces soldier calls Justin Trudeau an Omar Khadr 'groupie'
Soldier wounded in firefight involving Khadr says PM 'jumped at the opportunity to pay Omar Khadr $10.5M'
Retired U.S. special forces sergeant Layne Morris says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is an Omar Khadr "groupie" and that the prime minister "jumped at the opportunity" to apologize and pay the former Guantanamo Bay detainee $10.5 million in compensation.
Morris was blinded in one eye during the 2002 firefight in Afghanistan involving Khadr. U.S. Special Forces Sgt. Christopher Speer was killed in the same battle.
"If you are a supporter of Omar Khadr, a groupie so to speak, and Mr. Trudeau certainly falls into that category, then you look for any excuse possible. And you pick and choose from the legal opinions that are out there on what you need to do, and he was more than happy, jumped at the opportunity, to pay Omar Khadr $10.5 million," Morris said in an interview with CBC News Network's Power & Politics.
"This was a deliberate attempt by Mr. Trudeau and the Canadian government to not only pay Omar, but to do so in a way surreptitiously," he said.
Morris told host Rosemary Barton that the Canadian government gave Khadr a head start and attempted to "shield" him from any kind of legal process Morris's legal team brought forward.
Lawyers for Morris and Speer's widow, Tabitha Speer, will ask a Canadian court on Thursday for an urgent order to have Khadr's payout frozen pending the outcome of a request to recognize a 2015 $134.1-million US Utah judgment against Khadr.
The Utah judgment is based on Khadr's admission before a discredited military commission in Guantanamo Bay in 2010 — subsequently recanted — that he threw a grenade that killed Speer and injured Morris.
"They have picked their side, and I guess that should be no surprise, but it doesn't mean it is any less disturbing or upsetting," Morris said.
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Last Friday, the Canadian government formally apologized to Khadr and announced a settlement package. Khadr was suing the government for $20 million in damages, following a 2010 Supreme Court of Canada decision that Canadian officials had failed to uphold Khadr's rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms while he was detained at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
On Saturday, Trudeau addressed the settlement in his closing G20 press conference, saying the charter protects all Canadians "even when it is uncomfortable."
"This is not about the details or merits of the Khadr case. When the government violates any Canadian's charter rights we all end up paying for it," said Trudeau.
Morris said he doesn't think Khadr's rights were violated and called the 2010 Supreme Court of Canada judgment a "legal opinion."
In an interview that aired on Friday, Khadr told Barton he hopes the government's apology will help restore his reputation, but that he is sorry if it causes some people pain.
"It doesn't cause me pain. It makes me angry," said Morris. "There is a simple way to make things right. All he has to do is sign that cheque over to Tabitha Speer and I am sure he'll feel better. His conscience will be clear."
"It won't bring her husband back, but it certainly will honour his memory and he can at least feel for the rest of his life that he's at least tried to make amends for the horrific crimes he has committed," said Morris.
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Khadr pleaded guilty in 2010 to throwing the grenade that killed Speer. In 2013, Khadr filed an appeal and said he pleaded guilty because he wanted to return home to Canada. He said he has no memories of the 2002 battle.
Watch the full interview in the player below:
With files from The Canadian Press