Guantanamo detainee having tough time back in Canada: lawyer

Mon Oct 1, 2012 2:48pm EDT
 
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr, who was transferred to a prison in his Canadian homeland over the weekend, is having a difficult time adapting to his new circumstances, one of the inmate's lawyers said on Monday.

Khadr, the youngest prisoner and last Westerner held in the U.S. military prison on Cuban soil, returned to Canada on Saturday to finish his sentence. He had spent almost 10 years in Guantanamo.

He was 15 years old when captured in Afghanistan and later confessed to killing a U.S. soldier and conspiring with al Qaeda. As part of deal with prosecutors he pleaded guilty in 2010 and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Khadr, 26, is now in Millhaven top security jail in the central Canadian province of Ontario waiting for authorities to decide how best to handle his case. He will be eligible for parole in mid-2013.

"It's a very, very difficult (transition) right now. It's a horrible place, Guanatanamo is, but it's a place where he had built a life for himself, it was what he was familiar with, it was what he knew," Khadr lawyer John Norris told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

"All of that has now been left behind -- his pictures, his books, his letters from his family ... packed up in boxes and he has no access to them right now. It was a struggle for him just to get a novel to read," he said.

Canada's Conservative government, which bowed to pressure from the United States to take Khadr months earlier than expected, says it fears he has become radicalized.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, who like his cabinet colleagues has shown little sympathy for Khadr over the last decade, referred to him as a convicted terrorist on Saturday and said Canadians needed to be protected while he was in jail.   Continued...

 
A courtroom sketch shows defendant Omar Khadr, a native of Toronto, Canada, listening to testimony during his sentencing hearing at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, October 26, 2010. REUTERS/Janet Hamlin/Pool