Omar Khadr, a Canadian who was once the youngest prisoner held at Guantanamo Bay before being transferred to an Alberta prison in 2012, will be released Thursday (May 7) on bail while he appeals his murder conviction by a U.S. military tribunal, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
A Canadian judge ruled that Khadr, who was captured in Afghanistan when he was 15 and pleaded guilty to killing a U.S. soldier, can be released on bail, denying an appeal by the federal government to keep him in custody.
Speaking in Edmonton, his lawyers welcomed the news, calling it "a wonderful day for justice".
"This is the end of a long journey for Omar Khadr, he'll take his first taste of freedom in a couple of hours, we understand," said AttorneyNathan Whitling.
"It's been 12 years and nine months since he was taken prisoner when he was 15 years-old. We think it's high time that he be released. And whatever anybody might think of Omar Khadr, he's now served his time and we think this is going to be the end of his incarceration."
"We left a child, a Canadian child in Guantanamo Bay to suffer torture," added Attorney Dennis Edney.
"And not only did we leave a child to suffer torture, we Canada participated in his torture. And yet it's that same Canada that comes before the courts and gets all kinds of deference when itself has perpetuated barbaric acts. And so today is a wonderful day for justice."
The case of Khadr, 28, has divided Canadians. While the Canadian government has opposed his release, human rights advocates such as Amnesty International have argued that the one-time child soldier has been denied access to due process.
Canadian-born Khadr was the first person since World War Two to be prosecuted in a war crimes tribunal for acts committed as a juvenile.
Khadr was taken to Afghanistan by his father, a senior al Qaeda member, who apprenticed the boy to a group of bomb makers who opened fire when U.S. troops went to their compound. A firefight followed, during which Khadr was blinded in one eye and shot twice in the back, and he was captured.