Last Western Dentainee at Gitmo Returns to Canada
The last Western detainee held at Guantanamo Bay has returned to Canada. 26-year-old Omar Khadr arrived at a military base on a United States government plane earlier today. He will finish his eight year sentence in a maximum security prison in Ontario.
Below is more from the Associated Press:
The son of an alleged Al Qaeda financier, Khadr pleaded guilty
in 2010 to killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan and was eligible to return to Canada from Guantanamo Bay last October under terms of a plea deal. Canada's conservative government took almost a year to approve the transfer.
The U.S. Defense Department confirmed the transfer in a statement and said 166 detainees remain in detention at Guantanamo Bay.
Khadr was 15 when he was captured in 2002 in Afghanistan, and has spent a decade at the Guantanamo prison set up on the U.S. naval base in Cuba to hold suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He received an eight-year sentence in 2010 after being convicted of throwing a grenade that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer during a 2002 firefight.
"His head is spinning a bit and it's going to be a real adjustment for him, but at the same time he is so happy to be home," John Norris, Khadr's Canadian lawyer, told The Associated Press.
"He can't believe that it is finally true. He simply can't. For very good reason he was quite fearful that the government would not follow through on its word and he's pinching himself right now not believing that this government has finally kept its word," he said.
Norris said Khadr would be eligible for parole as early as the summer of 2013. He said he's been returned to Canada 10 years too late.
Toews said that the U.S. government initiated Khadr's transfer and suggested that Canada had little choice but to accept him because he is a Canadian citizen. It will be up to Canada's national parole board to release him, Toews said.
"Omar Khadr is a known supporter of the Al Qaeda terrorist network and a convicted terrorist," Toews said.
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