Former Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr has been moved from a maximum security penitentiary in Alberta to a less restrictive medium security facility after more than 15 months in Canadian custody, the Toronto Star has learned.
Corrections Canada had reassessed Khadr’s risk level last year and recommended the move.
Khadr’s lawyer, Dennis Edney, could not be reached Tuesday for comment but had previously stated that he expected Khadr to be moved to Bowden Institution, near the town of Innisfail.
Corrections Canada spokesperson Christa McGregor said Tuesday she could not speak about Khadr’s case. “As per the Privacy Act, the Correctional Service of Canada cannot discuss the specifics of an offender’s case, including his location,” she wrote in an email to the Star.
The transfer this week follows criticism from Canada’s prison ombudsman, who accused Corrections Canada of unfairly branding Khadr a maximum security prisoner upon his transfer to Canada in September 2012.
“The OCI has not found any evidence that Mr. Khadr’s behaviour while incarcerated has been problematic and that he could not be safely managed at a lower security level,” Ivan Zinger, the executive director of the Office of the Correctional Investigator wrote in a letter first obtained by The Canadian Press.
“I recommend that Mr. Khadr’s security classification be reassessed taking into account all available information and the actual level of risk posed by the offender, bearing in mind his sole offence was committed when he was a minor payday loan lenders.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has often spoken publicly about Khadr, refuting any criticism of Canada’s handling of the case and most recently stating that his government would “continue to vigorously defend against any attempts in court to lessen his punishment for these heinous acts.”
Khadr’s legal odyssey has been ongoing since July 2002, when he was shot and captured at the age of 15 in Afghanistan following a firefight with U.S. and Afghan special forces. He was charged with five offences in Guantanamo, including “murder in violation of the laws of war,” for the death of U.S. Delta Force soldier Christopher Speer.
The casemade history as Khadr was the only detainee to be charged for the murder of a service member in Iraq and Afghanistan and the first juvenile since the Second World War to be prosecuted for war crimes.
In October 2010, he was sentenced to eight years in a plea deal that allowed him to return to Canada. The 27-year-old stated in an affidavit last year that he has no memory of the firefight in Afghanistan and, given a “hopeless choice,” agreed to plead guilty, believing he would otherwise be held indefinitely in Guantanamo.
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