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NEW YORK – The U.S. government today finally transferred Omar Khadr from Guantánamo to his native Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence. The move comes nearly one year after a plea deal made the 26-year old, the prison's youngest inmate, eligible for transfer.
"We welcome Khadr's repatriation and hope the Canadian government will give Omar Khadr a meaningful opportunity for rehabilitation and reintegration into society, which Canada is required to provide under the child soldier treaty that Canada itself helped establish," said Jennifer Turner, human rights researcher with the American Civil Liberties Union's Human Rights Program. "At the same time, we cannot forget his decade-long imprisonment in abusive U.S. custody. Khadr was denied the fundamental rights of former child soldiers such as humane treatment, fair trial and other juvenile justice protections. His abhorrent Guantánamo experience should never have happened."
Turner was at Guantánamo to observe most of the military commission proceedings in Khadr's case, from pre-trial hearings through sentencing.
In 2004, Khadr was charged with war crimes in the Guantánamo military commissions, accused of throwing a grenade that killed Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer. In October 2010 in an 11th-hour plea deal that averted the scheduled resumption of his military commission trial, Khadr pled guilty to all charges against him. In exchange he received an eight-year sentence, on top of the eight years he had already served at Guantánamo.
Under the plea agreement, after serving one more year, Khadr was eligible to apply to serve out the rest of his sentence in Canada. The arrangement required the assent of the Canadian government and an exchange of diplomatic notes between the U.S. and Canadian governments, which took place immediately before Khadr agreed to the plea deal.
More information on Khadr's case is available at: https://www.aclu.org/blog/human-rights-national-security/decade-detention-former-child-soldier