Omar Khadr: Ex-Gitmo detainee who killed US soldier receives millions from Canada
FILE – In this May 7, 2015 file photo, Omar Khadr speaks to the media outside his lawyer Dennis Edney’s home in Edmonton, Alberta. (AP)
A former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who pleaded guilty to killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan received a multimillion-dollar payment from Canada, a government official said Thursday.
The official told the Associated Press that Omar Khadr had been given the money. A separate government official also familiar with the deal, which is expected to be announced Friday, said Khadr was given about $8 million.
Canada and Khadr’s lawyers negotiated the terms last month, based on a 2010 court ruling that Canadian officials violated his rights at Guantanamo.
The Canadian Supreme Court ruled that Canadian intelligence obtained evidence from Khadr under “oppressive circumstances,” such as sleep deprivation, during interrogations at the detention center in 2003, and then shared that evidence with U.S. officials.
Khadr was 15 when he was captured by U.S. troops following a firefight at a suspected Al Qaeda compound in Afghanistan that resulted in the death of U.S. Special Forces medic, U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Christopher Speer. Khadr, who was suspected of throwing the grenade that killed Speer, was taken to Guantanamo and ultimately charged with war crimes by a military commission.
The Canadian-born Khadr pleaded guilty in 2010 to charges that included murder and was sentences to eight years plus the time he had already spent in custody. He returned to Canada two years later to serve the remainder of his sentence and was released in May 2015 pending an appeal of his guilty plea, which he said was made under duress.
His lawyers filed a $20 million wrongful imprisonment lawsuit against the Canadian government, arguing the government violated international law by not protecting its own citizen and conspired with the U.S. in its abuse of Khadr.
The widow of Speer and another American soldier blinded by the grenade in Afghanistan filed a wrongful death and injury lawsuit against Khadr in 2014 fearing Khadr might get his hands on money from his $20 million wrongful imprisonment lawsuit. A U.S. judge granted $134.2 million in damages in 2015, but the plaintiffs acknowledged then that there was little chance they would collect any of the money from Khadr because he lives in Canada.
Khadr’s lawyers have long said he was pushed into war by his father, Ahmed Said Khadr, whose family stayed with Usama bin Laden briefly when Omar Khadr was a boy. Khadr’s Egyptian-born father was killed in 2003 when a Pakistani military helicopter shelled the house where he was staying with senior Al Qaeda operatives.
After his 2015 release from prison in Alberta, Omar Khadr apologized to the families of the victims. He said he rejects violent jihad and wants a fresh start to finish his education and work in health care. He currently resides in an apartment in Edmonton, Alberta.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.