August 25, 2009 / 3:40 PM / 8 years ago

Canada resists pressing U.S. on Khadr release

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government will try to appeal court decisions that ordered it to press the Obama administration to release Canadian Guantanamo inmate Omar Khadr, spokeswoman Catherine Loubier said on Tuesday.

<p>Canadian defendant Omar Khadr attends a hearing inside the courthouse for the U.S. military war crimes commission at the Camp Justice compound at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba, July 15, 2009, in this photo of a sketch by courtroom artist Janet Hamlin which was reviewed by the U.S. military. REUTERS/Janet Hamlin/Pool</p>

“Our position regarding Mr. Khadr remains unchanged. In fact, it is the same policy held by two previous governments,” she said in a statement.

“Omar Khadr has been accused of serious crimes (including murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, material support for terrorism and spying, all in violation of the laws of war).”

The Federal Court of Canada told the Conservative government in April it had to press for Khadr’s release from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Federal Court of Appeal upheld that decision on August 14.

Ottawa has now decided to ask the Supreme Court of Canada for permission to make one last appeal.

The United States accuses Khadr of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier and wounding another during a firefight in 2002 at an al Qaeda compound in Afghanistan.

He was 15 at the time, and seriously wounded in the fight. He is now a burly, bearded 22-year-old, the only Westerner left in the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Loubier said President Barack Obama had not communicated any decision to Canada regarding Khadr.

“As you know, the Obama administration has recently taken decisions to proceed with the closure of Guantanamo, halt the judiciary process and also to evaluate each of the cases,” she said.

“It is in our interest to wait for the outcome of these decisions just put forward by President Obama. The government of Canada has taken its responsibilities with regards to Mr. Khadr, and we will also take our responsibilities when the U.S. government shares its decision on this case.”

The three opposition parties have, like the Federal Court, demanded that Prime Minister Stephen Harper actively seek Khadr’s return, emphasizing that Khadr was only a teenager when he was apprehended.

The Supreme Court can take weeks or months to decide whether to hear a case. For now, the government has asked for a stay of this month’s decision by the Federal Court of Appeal.

Editing by Rob Wilson

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