Canada court wants Gitmo detainee’s return
TORONTO — Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal upheld Friday a lower court ruling ordering the Canadian government to seek return of the last Western detainee at Guantanamo Bay.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has steadfastly refused to get involved in Omar Khadr’s case, saying the United States legal process has to play itself out.
Catherine Loubier, a spokeswoman for Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, said the government would review the Court of Appeal’s majority 2-1 decision and noted there was a “strong dissenting opinion.”
Khadr, a Toronto native, is one of the youngest people ever charged with war crimes. He was 15 when he was accused of killing an American soldier with a grenade during a 2002 battle in Afghanistan.
The Obama administration is reviewing Guantanamo cases to determine whether the remaining prisoners should be tried in U.S. courts or released to other countries.
A judge ruled in April that Canada must ask the U.S. to return Khadr home. It said Canada’s refusal to request his repatriation offends fundamental justice and violates Khadr’s constitutional rights.
The government appealed but the Court of Appeal dismissed the government’s appeal on Friday in a majority 2-1 decision.
Canadian officials questioned Khadr at Guantanamo and shared the results of their interrogations with the U.S.
The appeals court said Canadian officials violated Khadr’s constitutional rights by permitting the questioning of him after he had been subjected to cruel and abusive treatment.
Khadr’s lawyer said the government can appeal to the Supreme Court. An appeal seem likely based on the government’s initial reaction.
Khadr is now 22, and his lawyer said he would be willing to face prosecution in Canada and undergo a transition period away from his relatives, who have previous ties to al-Qaida.
Khadr’s lawyers contend Canada was complicit in what they say was Khadr’s torture and maintain Harper is obliged under international law to demand the prisoner’s return.
Canada’s three opposition parties have demanded the Conservative government bring Khadr home.
Khadr has received some sympathy from Canadians, but his family has been widely criticized and called the “first family of terrorism.”
His father was an alleged al-Qaida militant and financier who was killed by Pakistani forces in 2003. A brother, Abdullah Khadr, is being held in Canada on a U.S. extradition warrant, accused of supplying weapons to al-Qaida. Another brother has acknowledged the family stayed with Osama bin Laden.