TORONTO — Former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr is asking a Canadian court to ease his bail conditions to allow him to fly to Toronto to visit his family, The Canadian Press has learned.
Among other things, Khadr also wants to be rid of his electronic monitoring bracelet, arguing it’s embarrassing and intrusive, and his curfew eased.
“My release and reintegration into the community have been going great,” Khadr says in a supporting affidavit.
An Alberta judge granted Khadr bail May 7 pending his appeal in the U.S. against his 2010 conviction for war crimes – including the murder of an American special forces soldier – by a widely discredited military commission at Guantanamo Bay.
He transferred to Canada in 2012 and remained incarcerated until winning bail and tasting freedom for the first time since his capture as a 15-year-old in Afghanistan in July 2002.
However, bail came with stringent conditions – including that he live with his lawyer Dennis Edney in Edmonton and not leave Alberta – except to stay at Edney’s vacation home in B.C.
He was also required to communicate with his family – some of whom expressed pro-al-Qaida views in the past – only in English and under the Edneys’ supervision.
“I am now an adult and I think independently,” Khadr, 29, says in the document.
“Even if the members of my family were to wish to influence my religious or other views, they would not be able to control or influence me in any negative manner.”
Khadr’s maternal grandparents live in Toronto. He says his grandmother is ill and his grandfather barely speaks English. As a result, he says, he wants to be able to visit them and converse in another language without the Edneys present.
He also says he wants to see his mother, siblings, and other relatives during a two-week visit to Toronto either this month or next.
“None of my family members are involved in any illegal activity,” he states.
There was no immediate word on the government’s response to Khadr’s application to the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, which is expected to hear the matter Sept. 11 in Edmonton, according to legal filings.
However, the Conservative government has frequently denounced any attempt by Khadr to “lessen his punishment” for what it called “heinous crimes.” While Ottawa is appealing the fact he was granted bail, it has yet to request a date or file supporting documents.
Alberta’s Court of Appeal has previously decided the eight-year sentence the commission gave Khadr as part of his plea bargain amounts to a youth sentence – something the federal government is appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada. That means he would have been eligible for statutory release Aug. 19, according to Correctional Service Canada.
Khadr says it’s time to take off his electronic ankle bracelet, which he calls uncomfortable.
“It has also gone off several times and made noise all the time, even when I am in full compliance with my conditions,” he says. “This can be particularly embarrassing.”
He says he wants to be able to attend early morning prayers – but needs to be allowed to leave home at 5 a.m. to do so, or to take a walk or ride his bicycle.
“The original conditions are no longer necessary or in the public interest,” Khadr’s lawyer Nate Whitling writes in the bail-variance application.