“Mr Khadr, you are free to go,” said Justice Myra Bielby at a hearing in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to the youngest person ever to be detained at Guantanamo Bay, Omar Khadr. Omar Khadr has been released on bail by a Canadian Federal court.
Khadr was captured in July of 2002 after a firefight in Afghanistan, during which Khadr threw a grenade that allegedly killed Sgt. First Class Christopher Speer, an army special forces medic.
Omar Khadr was 15-years-old at the time.
While being detained in Guantanamo Bay, Omar Khadr pleaded guilty to war-crimes and was transferred to Canada in 2012 to serve out his sentence.
Khadr’s lawyer requested that his client be released from prison, on bail, while his war-crimes conviction is heard on appeal.
The Canadian government has been fighting Khadr’s release since he was repatriated to the country.
At the 11th hour, Crown prosecutors made a last ditch attempt to keep Khadr behind bars stating that his release could jeopardize the international transfer system by discrediting the Canadian government.
“(Khadr’s) release unsettles the foundation of this system by introducing uncertainty and a lack of control over the manner in which Canadian offenders’ sentences are enforced,” said the Canadian government in their submission to the court.
The Canadian court hearing the case struck down this argument, and the U.S. State Department said that the release of Khadr did not harm the relationship between the two countries.
“The United States has a close and co-operative relationship with the Government of Canada. We maintain continuous discussions on a broad range of issues, including security,” a State Department spokesperson told the Toronto Star.
On Friday, Canada’s Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said that Khadr’s release was disappointing.
“Our thoughts today are going toward Mrs. Tabitha Speer and her two sons, children who have lost their father and we believe for individuals who have pleaded guilty to crimes, should serve their sentence behind bars,” Blaney said in a statement at Montreal’s Pierre Elliot Trudeau airport.
In his first day out of prison in 13 years, Khadr told the media that freedom was better than he expected and that he wished to prove that he has abandoned extremism and was a good person.
“I would like to thank the Canadian public for trusting me, and giving me a chance. I will prove to them that I’m more than what they thought of me. I’ll prove to them that I’m a good person,” said Khadr.
[CBC][The Guardian][The Toronto Star][Photo courtesy of the CBC]