Omar Khadr, detained at 15-years-old, is released more than 12 years later into the supervision of his lawyer.
More than twelve years after he was first admitted into Guantánamo Bay as the prison’s youngest detainee, Omar Khadr was released yesterday on a $5,000 bail. He was only 15-years-old when he was first jailed. Today, at 28, he walked out of a Canadian courthouse a free man.
Khadr, who pled guilty to throwing a grenade that killed an American soldier in Afghanistan, was granted freedom by a Canadian judge despite the Canadian government’s efforts to prevent his release.
His confession was part of a 2010 plea deal orchestrated by the Obama administration—he now says he’s not sure exactly what happened during the attack that killed the U.S. soldier. In 2010, a U.N. official classified Khadr as a “child soldier,” arguing for his release into a rehabilitation program. Instead, he was granted an 8-year sentence in exchange for his guilty plea, and then repatriated to Canada in 2012. Khadr’s lawyers lambasted the Canadian government’s long overdue attempts to remove him from the U.S. prison—he had spent 10 years in Guantánamo, the entire period of his adolesence.
“We were the only Western government not to request one of its detainees to return home,” said Dennis Edney, one of Khadr’s lawyers, to The Star. “We left a child, a Canadian child, to suffer torture; we participated in this torture.”
The conservative administration of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is apparently still pursuing efforts against Khadr.
“Mr. Harper is a bigot,” said Edney to The Star. “Mr. Harper doesn’t like Muslims. He wants to prove he’s tough on crime so who does he pick on? A 15-year-old boy.”
Edney will be hosting Khadr in his Edmonton home for the time being—these accomodations were stipulated in his bail conditions, which also require that he wear an electronic monitor. Khadr released a statement to the website Free Omar Khadr Now expressing his appreciation.
“Since I’ve come to Edmonton I’ve been feeling more connected to this beautiful city and it’s wonderful people,” he wrote. “Everytime I see somebody new or somebody writes to me I feel that I belong to Edmonton and that makes my heart warm. It’s a gratifying feeling to belong to a place and to know that you are cared about and thought of. For that I’m eternally grateful to you, the city of Edmonton and all its wonderful people.”
Nathan Whitling, one of Khadr's lawyers, tweeted this photo of his release.