The Canadian government was prepping arguments to oppose the release of the youngest inmate ever to have been imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Lawyers representing the government will explain at a hearing Tuesday in Edmonton why Canadian citizen Omar Khadr, 28, who was just 15 when he was captured in Afghanistan in 2002, poses a risk to public safety.
Khadr attorney Dennis Edney said he is convinced the judge will rule in favor of his client.
“It’s malicious. This is a government that doesn’t believe in the rule of law,” Edney told the Guardian. “I expect him in my house tomorrow night, if not Wednesday morning.”
Up until 2010 Khadr protested his innocence while awaiting trial but pleaded guilty when the possibility of serving the rest of his sentence in Canada was offered. After being moved to a correctional facility in Alberta in 2012, Khadr renounced his guilt, claiming it was the only way he could escape the Cuban prison.
Since then, a judge has granted Khadr bail, declaring he had a “12 1/2-year track record as a model prisoner.” It was this that prompted Stephen Harper’s Conservative government to start a last minute legal challenge to keep Khadr behind bars.
Khadr was accused of killing U.S. Army Special Forces Sgt. Christopher Speer during a firefight in July 2002 in Eastern Afghanistan. Khadr was partially blinded in the fight in which he claimed he was forced to participate.
But news of Khadr’s potential release has sparked controversy among Conservatives in Canada.
“We also cannot forget when we’re talking about Omar Ahmed Khadr that there are real victims of his actions. Obviously Army medic Christopher Speer lost his life. He left behind a wife who is now a widow and two lovely children,” Conservative Member of Parliament Roxanne James told the CBC.