The lawyer for a Canadian man who spent a decade in an American detention centre wants his release conditions relaxed.
Omar Khadr was taken prisoner in 2002 at the age of 15 by American forces in Afghanistan. Khadr was taken to Afghanistan by his father to fight against NATO forces. He eventually pleaded guilty to war crimes charges stemming from his killing of an American soldier with a grenade during a fire fight.
Alberta lawyer Dennis Edney represented Khadr as he tried to get the Canadian government’s help while locked up in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.
As part of his plea deal with an American military commission, Khadr was allowed to return to Canada to serve the rest of an eight-year sentence.
On May 7, he was given bail as he appeals his conviction. He’s been living with Edney and his wife ever since.
Edney was in Saskatoon Tuesday to deliver a lecture at the University of Saskatchewan.
In remarks to reporters prior to the event, he explained why his client wants conditions from his release changed.
Among those conditions: Khadr is required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet, contact with his family in Toronto is restricted to phone or video calls that must be conducted in English with Edney present and he is under a curfew from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
“(The bracelet) brings bad memories of Guantanamo. It’s embarrassing to have around and there’s no need for it. In fact, even the correctional services agreed that Omar should simply be released. And so the conditions need to be changed and we’ll be asking the judge to do that,” he said.
“(The bracelet) brings bad memories of Guantanamo. It’s embarrassing to have around and there’s no need for it.”- Dennis Edney
Edney said Khadr also wants permission to see his family and wants his curfew changed to allow for night classes.
“He hasn’t seen his grandparents since the age of 14 and they’re in poor health, so I’d like to try and accommodate that,” he said.
Overall, Edney said Khadr has been handling the transition to a life out of custody well.
“Omar has been stopped by so many people in Edmonton, who have not been intrusive, but who simply have said ‘welcome,'” he said.
Edney has been a vocal critic of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative government. On Tuesday, he once again denounced their treatment of his client, who was allegedly tortured while being held by the Americans.
“Omar was left alone and abandoned and our government had the obligation to ensure that international treaties were being afforded to him. Substantial treaties, such as the (United Nations) Convention on Torture, the Convention on Rights of the Child,” he said.
Edney went on to accuse Harper of singling out Muslims with his anti-terror policies.
“We have to be careful about language we use, and the government has not been careful. We talk about terrorism and the war on terror synonymous with Muslims and that is wrong,” he said.
A hearing on Khadr’s bail conditions is set for Friday.