After spending 13 years in various prisons including 10 years at the notorious torture chamber at Guantanamo Bay undergoing torture, Omar Khadr walked out as a free man on bail. His lawyer Dennis Edney is largely credited with securing his release despite the determined efforts of the Harper regime to prevent Khadr's release. Justice has triumphed over meanness and hatred. Most Canadians are not bigots, only a small minority are.
Thursday May 7, 2015, 20:09 DST
After spending nearly half his life in various prisons and undergoing egregious torture at the hands of his American captors, Omar Khadr, now 28, walked out of an Alberta Police Station on bail today accompanied by his indomitable lawyer Dennis Edney. Alberta Court of Appeal Justice Myra Bielby rejected a bid by the Harper regime to have Khadr’s bail application denied and keep him behind bars to complete his full eight-year sentence.
Justice Bielby said there was no clear evidence that Khadr posed a risk to public safety or that his release would cause irreparable harm to Canada’s international relations with the US, as Canadian Justice Minister Steven Blaney claimed. A spokesman for US State Department had already dismissed the suggestion on Friday May 1 that Washington’s relations with Canada would be affected by Khadr’s release. In fact, the US is trying to find ways to release the remaining prisoners held at the notorious torture camp, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba that is illegally occupied by the US.
Lawyer Dennis Edney offered personal sureties for Khadr’s bail and said he will keep the now grown-up man at his family home. Khadr has appealed his convictions in the United States for war crimes.
"I look forward to Omar Khadr letting the Canadian public see who he is," said Edney. "Today is a wonderful day for justice, it's a start," he said to the media pack outside the Edmonton Courthouse. Edney is expected to make a statement to the media later this evening while Khadr will appear briefly before the media tomorrow (Friday May 8).
While the Harper regime, dominated by rightwing zealots is fuming, legal experts as well as media outlets have welcomed Khadr’s release. The Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s leading newspapers, castigated the federal government in an editorial (May 4) saying “The government’s shameful handling of this case leaves the unmistakable impression that it is manipulating a legal proceeding to curry favour with some of its core voters. Who’s the threat to Canada, exactly?”
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice June Ross had granted Khadr bail last month, but the government appealed that decision. At his bail hearing on Tuesday May 5, Justice Beilby granted a 48-hour stay to the government but addressing Khadr today, she said: “Mr. Khadr, you are free to go!”
There were immediate cheers, as well as tears of joy among those present in the courtroom. Immediately after Justice Beilby left the courtroom, a visibly happy Edney rushed over to Khadr, raised his hand above his head and brought it down to clasp Khadr's outstretched hand. "It's done," he told the long-incarcerated Toronto-born boy whom he has known since he was first brought to Guantanamo Bay in October 2002.
Edney has been scathing his criticism of Harper saying publicly: “Mr. Harper is a bigot. Mr. Harper does not like Muslims.” Edney went on: “He [harper] wants to prove he’s tough on crime, so who does he pick on? A 15-year-old boy.” He also said it was shameful that Canada was alone among Western governments that refused to stand up for one of its citizens.
As Khadr adjusts to life as a relatively free man under very strict bail conditions including no direct contact with his family without prior approval of the jail supervisor, Canadians can take pride in the fact that their justice system is still larger intact. It is also free of political manipulation, as Harper and his regime tried to do, without success.