WATCH ABOVE: Former Guantanamo Bay inmate Omar Khadr is looking to start fresh and it starts with going to school in Alberta. Eric Szeto has the details.
EDMONTON — Former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr is looking to restart his life in Edmonton.
In a letter of intent filed with the court on Friday, The King’s University President Dr. Melanie Humphreys said the post-secondary institution would accept the 28-year-old as a mature student, if he wishes to seek educational opportunities with the university.
“Technically he’s not accepted as a student. We have indicated that we intend to accept him, but that’s part of a long process,” Humphreys said over the phone Saturday morning.
“We would work with Corrections Canada and all of the officials to make sure timing and safety,” she said. “I think one of things for us is, and this is something Omar has said too, integration needs to happen slowly. He’s been incarcerated since he was 15, right? He’s 28. So there’s a lot of learning and life to catch up on.”
Khadr has been involved with King’s for the past six years, working on the equivalency of a high school education.
“He’s a bright, intelligent, dedicated student and there’s a good number of faculty that have been in a relationship with him,” said Humphreys. “We feel like it was pretty much a logical step.”
Khadr’s Canadian lawyer Dennis Edney said the Toronto-born Khadr would live with him in Edmonton.
Khadr’s bail hearing is set for March 24. It will be his first attempt at freedom since his return from a notorious U.S. Prison in Cuba where he was held for eight years.
“It’s becoming clearer and clearer in the United States from recent cases that Omar’s convictions are invalid,” his lawyer, Nate Whitling, told the Canadian Press last week.
Khadr pleaded guilty in October 2010 before a widely maligned U.S. Military commission to war crimes he was accused of committing in 2002 as a 15-year-old in Afghanistan. He was sentenced to a further eight years and later said his guilty plea was his only way out of Guantanamo, given that he faced indefinite detention even if acquitted.
Khadr has been at the Bowden Institution since 2013.
“Every professional in the Correctional Services has described him as wonderful to work with, poses no threat to anybody and that he’s really just a decent kid,” said Edney.
While Khadr would be accepted by the Edmonton university, Humphreys said he would not likely attend class on campus any time soon.
“He has a bit of catching up on life to do. So I would imagine, maybe he takes one course starting in the fall and he does it off campus or distance, that type of thing; but he takes a while to adjust and get back into community living.”
“I don’t expect him on campus in class for the foreseeable future.”
With files from The Canadian Press.
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