No pressure to repatriate Khadr: envoy

OTTAWA — The United States didn’t have to pressure Canada to repatriate convicted terrorist Omar Khadr from its Cuban military prison, American envoy David Jacobson said Monday.

OTTAWA — The United States didn’t have to pressure Canada to repatriate convicted terrorist Omar Khadr from its Cuban military prison, American envoy David Jacobson said Monday.

Toronto-born Khadr returned to Canada on Saturday after 10 years in the notorious U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, a facility which has been condemned by human rights organizations across the globe.

The Harper government has been accused of dragging its feet on the 26-year-old’s case and Canada’s foreign affairs minister even recently suggested the repatriation came after diplomatic pressure from the U.S.

But Jacobson, who spoke to reporters at Ottawa’s Carleton University after a speech on the upcoming American presidential election, said Canada and the U.S. collaborated on the Khadr file.

“I’m not sure I’d use the word pressure. We wanted it to happen. We had an understanding with Canada that’s public — the fact that they would look favourably on a request,” he said.

Jacobson called Khadr’s return a small step towards the eventual closure of the prison because the Canadian citizen was the last Western national held there.

U.S. President Barack Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay four years ago when he won the White House, but Jacobson said Obama has faced serious obstacles.

“Is it the end of the road? No. This has been a difficult thing for the president. He indicated on day one … that he was going to try to close Guantanamo. He has met a lot of resistance in Congress and elsewhere. But this was a step in the right direction and we’re pleased the Canadians did it,” said Jacobson.

“We explained to the Canadians our desire. But we don’t pressure, that’s not how it works.”

On Sunday, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird simply answered “yes” when asked by CTV’s Question Period if the U.S. had exerted diplomatic pressure on Canada to accept Khadr.

Baird added that since Khadr is a Canadian citizen and the Americans plan to close Guantanamo Bay, Canada did not have much of a choice but to let the prisoner return.

Khadr pleaded guilty in October 2010 to five charges, including murder in violation of the law of war for the death of an American special forces soldier in Afghanistan in July 2002. Khadr was 15 years old at the time of the offences.

Under the terms of a plea agreement, Khadr was eligible to return to Canada a year ago to serve out the remainder of an eight-year sentence for war crimes, but his transfer was delayed amid sniping between Canada and the U.S.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews had insisted he needed to satisfy himself that Khadr would pose no threat to public safety.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, Toews said Khadr’s weekend repatriation came after a regulatory process was followed.

“The transfer of Omar Khadr occurred following a process initiated by the American government and conducted in accordance with Canadian law. It did not include consideration of foreign relations,” he said.

Meanwhile, interim Liberal leader Bob Rae said the rhetoric used by the Conservatives to portray Khadr to Canadians needed to change.

“I think the attitude of the Conservatives is completely out of keeping with what needs to happen and where we need to be as a country with respect to Mr. Khadr,” Rae said.

“But we’ve come to expect nothing else, nothing less, nothing better from the Conservatives or from Mr. Toews…they’re going to continue to use what I call simple cartoon rhetoric and cartoon language in describing a real person who now has to be rehabilitated into Canada.”

The U.S. had little to say about Khadr’s transfer prior to Jacobson’s comments Monday night.

“We’re glad that it’s behind us. We appreciate the actions of Canada,” Jacobson said.

Khadr was taken to Millhaven Institution west of Kingston, Ont., upon his return for a period of assessment — a normal procedure for new inmates — before authorities decide where he will serve out the remaining six years of his sentence.

He will be eligible for parole within about six months.

Just Posted

Chemical analysis may provide clues to cause of huge Red Deer industrial fire

Fire on April 17 caused $9 million in damage to oil and gas industrial building

New loonie reason to celebrate and educate: central Alberta LGBTQ community

The new LGBTQ2 loonie is a conversation starter and a reason to… Continue reading

C & E Trail property owner wants to use land as RV storage yard

Red Deer city council gives initial approval

Indigenous cultural centre needed in Red Deer

Urban Aboriginal Voices Society hosts annual community gathering

Red Deer youth recognized for his compassion

Blackfalds man dies after vehicle collision

MISSING: Joshua Arthur Sanford

37-year-old Ponoka man last seen on Tuesday morning

Inspired by a galaxy far, far away, these ‘Star Wars’ mementos could be yours forever

CHICAGO —The stuff of “Star Wars” —and there is unfortunately no better… Continue reading

Shoppers Drug Mart launches second online medical pot portal in Alberta

TORONTO — Medical cannabis users in Alberta can now get their therapeutic… Continue reading

Taylor Drive honours legacy of outstanding community volunteer

The main roadway going north and south on the west side of… Continue reading

Oh, yes! Nurse, Raptors look to finish series with Magic

DENVER — In response to an early call, Toronto coach Nick Nurse… Continue reading

Delay of game calls, goalie interference top worst rules for NHLers: survey

The pace and excitement of 3-on-3 overtime isn’t just a thrill for… Continue reading

Avengers get epic send-off at ‘Endgame’ world premiere

LOS ANGELES — There were more than a few sniffles from the… Continue reading

Writers’ Trust launches program pairing rising writers with established mentors

TORONTO — The Writers’ Trust has launched a program that gives five… Continue reading

Most Read