Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen and member of a terrorist family, was convicted of five war crimes by US military commission. His conviction included murdering a US Sergeant, Christopher Speer, and providing material support for terrorism. He was sentenced to 40 years, but a plea deal reduced the sentence to eight years with the provision that he could seek repatriation to Canada after serving only one year. He has now completed the first year of his sentence Guantanamo. Khadr has now made the official request to return to Canada.
“He is still in Guantanamo, but we have submitted an application (for his repatriation to Canada) and we understand that the process is underway. We have reached a milestone,” his lawyer John Norris said.
While both Canada and the US gave tacit approval for the transfer during the trial, neither country committed to when they would grant this approval. Washington has to approve the request prior to Canada taking action on the request.
A spokesman for Canada’s Public Safety Minister, Vic Toews, said he had no particular objections to the request, however the case would be solely based on the merits. like any other international transfer. He said while he was not aware of any objections, a decision could take up to 18 months.
Khadr was born in Toronto in 1986, but had most of his education in a private school in Peshawar, Pakistan and a couple years of homeschooling.
During his trial his lawyers said that Khadr’s ambition was to enroll in a university in Alberta. Once he completes his sentence, it remains to be seen if Khadr can be reintegrated into Canadian society. He has been in captivity since 2002 and arrived in Guantanamo in October of that year.
The ball is in the court of the Obama Administration for now.