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Canada Apologizes and Pays Millions to Citizen Held at Guantánamo Bay

In 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada sternly rebuked the government. It found that the interrogation of Mr. Khadr by Canadian intelligence officials at Guantánamo “offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.” Separately, another court, the Federal Court of Canada, also found that the Conservative government had violated Mr. Khadr’s rights by not actively seeking his return.

Mr. Khadr has been a polarizing figure here. He was taken from Canada to Afghanistan by his father, Ahmed Said Khadr, who was thought by Canadian intelligence officials to have been associated with Osama bin Laden. The elder Mr. Khadr was eventually killed by government forces in Pakistan. Other members of his family also publicly offered inflammatory statements that many Canadians viewed as condoning terrorism.

While Mr. Harper sided with Canadians who held such sentiments, Mr. Khadr received support from Canadians who viewed him as a child victim of war, a position generally taken by the courts.

The strong findings in favor of Mr. Khadr in earlier court decisions made it inevitable, said Ralph Goodale, the public safety minister, that the government would have to settle his lawsuit for damages. Neither the government nor Mr. Khadr’s lawyers would disclose the amount. But several Canadian news media outlets reported this week that the amount was 10.5 million Canadian dollars, or about $ 8.1 million, without being challenged by either party in the dispute.

After announcing the settlement, Mr. Goodale acknowledged that some Canadians would not like having the government pay money to a man they viewed as a terrorist.

But he said that the country could not deny the wrongdoing by its officials.

“You may want to dismiss the rule of law and the Constitution,” Mr. Goodale told reporters in Ottawa. “But if you do that, you are fundamentally undermining the integrity of the country.”

Andrew Scheer, the current Conservative leader, argued that the Canada’s responsibility for Mr. Khadr ended when he was repatriated in 2012. Mr. Scheer told reporters in Calgary, Alberta, that he found the settlement “disgusting.”

In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which appeared to have been recorded before the announcement, Mr. Khadr, who was held in a Canadian prison until 2015, said he hoped the apology would help his efforts to lead a normal life.

“I never was angry or upset about what happened,” said Mr. Khadr, who lives in Edmonton, Alberta, and who said it had been difficult to attend school and find jobs because of his “past reputation.”

Asked about the family of the soldier he killed, Sgt. Christopher Speer, Mr. Khadr said that he was “really sorry for their pain.”

While the settlement is the end of Mr. Khadr’s 15-year legal battle with the government of Canada, he is still not free of the courts.

Two years ago, a United States federal court in Utah awarded Tabitha Speer, Sergeant Speer’s widow, and Layne Morris, a former member of the American military who lost some his eyesight because of the grenade thrown by Mr. Khadr, about $ 134 million in a default judgment.

David Winer, a lawyer for the Americans, was in a Toronto court on Friday to set a date for a hearing to order a freeze on Mr. Khadr’s compensation. He declined to speak with reporters.

Many legal experts say it will be difficult for Ms. Speer and Mr. Morris to collect the Utah judgment in Canada or to freeze Mr. Khadr’s compensation.

Jody Wilson-Raybould, the justice minister, said that Mr. Khadr’s story provided two messages for Canada: “Our rights are not subject to the whims of the government of the day,” she said. “And there are serious costs when the government violates the rights of its citizens.”

Source: NYT > World

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