Canada to award $10.7m to ex-Guantanamo detainee

Mr Omar Khadr leaving a news conference after being released on bail in Edmonton, Alberta, in May 2015. Mr Khadr, a Canadian, was captured in Afghanistan in 2002 at age 15 and was the youngest prisoner at Guantanamo Bay.
Mr Omar Khadr leaving a news conference after being released on bail in Edmonton, Alberta, in May 2015. Mr Khadr, a Canadian, was captured in Afghanistan in 2002 at age 15 and was the youngest prisoner at Guantanamo Bay.PHOTO: REUTERS

MONTREAL • Canada is set to apologise and award millions of dollars in compensation to a former Guantanamo detainee who was captured in Afghanistan at the age of 15 and detained for 13 years.

Mr Omar Khadr will receive at least C$10 million (S$10.7 million) from the federal government for the treatment he was subjected to during his captivity, according to reports in The Globe and Mail and Toronto Star, which cited anonymous sources.

Mr Khadr, a Canadian citizen who spent 10 years at Guantanamo prison before being transferred to Canada and conditionally released in 2015, was the youngest prisoner at the detention camp on US soil in Cuba following his capture in Afghanistan in 2002.

Canada's Supreme Court in 2010 ruled that his rights had been violated by Ottawa, which shared statements he made to Canadian officials with the United States.

While at Guantanamo, he was sentenced in 2010 to eight years plus time already served for murdering a US soldier with a grenade, attempted murder, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism and spying.

He won the right to be extradited and was sent home to Canada in 2012 to serve the remainder of his sentence. His lawyers fought for several years to have his status as a minor at the time of the attack recognised.

Canada's Supreme Court finally agreed one week before his conditional release in 2015.

His legal team said it was pursuing a C$20 million claim against the Canadian government because his rights as a prisoner were violated.

The ruling has precedent. In March, Ottawa apologised to three of its citizens who were tortured in Syria, allegedly with the indirect participation of Canadian officials.

The government said it had settled civil suits with three Canadian nationals - Mr Abdullah Almalki, Mr Ahmad Abou Elmaati and Mr Muayyed Nureddin - who were arrested and tortured in Syrian custody after the 9/11 attacks and held until 2004.

In a similar case, Canadian computer engineer Maher Arar was tortured in a Damascus prison in 2002, after he was transferred there by US officials based on a Canadian tip-off. But Mr Arar was later cleared of any suspicion by the Canadian authorities, and in January 2007 won an apology from then Prime Minister Stephen Harper and C$10 million in compensation.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2017, with the headline 'Canada to award $10.7m to ex-Guantanamo detainee'. Print Edition | Subscribe