A Canadian court has ordered that a former Guantanamo inmate be released on bail. Omar Khadr was set to be let out of prison despite the objections of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government.
The Alberta Court of Appeal on Thursday rejected an emergency request from the federal government to stop the 28-year-old Canadian citizen from being released while he appeals his US war crimes conviction.
"Mr. Khadr you're free to go," Justice Myra Bielby said, before cheers erupted in the Edmonton courtroom.
Khadr's bail comes with strict conditions attached, including that he wear an electronic tracking device, live with the family of one of his lawyers, and observe a curfew between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. He is also to be allowed only supervised access to the Internet and his family, who live thousands of kilometers away in the central province of Ontario.
Dennis Edney, the lawyer who, along with his wife, offered to take Khadr into their home, expressed delight at the judge's ruling.
"It's taken too many years to get to this point," Edney said. "We were the only Western country that didn't request one of its detainees come home. We left a Canadian child in Guantanamo Bay to suffer torture."
Another of Khadr's lawyers, Nate Whitling said his client would be facing a major adjustment after spending so long incarcerated.
"He's met very few people outside a jail cell," Whitling said.
Convicted by US of war crimes
In 2010, a US military commission convicted Khadr of war crimes on charges that included throwing a grenade that killed an American soldier in Afghanistan eight years earlier, when Khadr was just 15. Khadr was shot twice in the back and was blinded in one eye during a firefight, before US soldiers arrested him.
Khadr's lawyers have argued that he was pushed to fight against US forces by his father, an Egyptian-born alleged financier of al-Qaida, who was killed in a Pakistani military operation in 2003.
Born in Toronto, Khadr spent a decade as the youngest inmate being held at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay on Cuba before being transferred to an Alberta facility in 2012 to finish serving his sentence.
Another Alberta court had granted Khadr bail last month, but his release was delayed after the Crown sought an emergency stay, arguing that this could damage relations with Washington.
"We are disappointed with today's decision, and regret that a convicted terrorist has been allowed back into Canadian society without having served his full sentence," a statement released by a spokesman for Canada's public safety minister, Steven Blaney, said.
pfd/sms ( AP, Reuters, AFP)