Omar Khadr, who was once one of the youngest prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, was released on bail in Canada on Thursday. He said of his newfound freedom that what he was experiencing was “much better” than he had thought it would be.
On this week’s “Unauthorized Disclosure” episode, Janice Williamson, editor of the book, Omar Khadr: Oh Canada, and a professor at the University of Alberta, joins the show to talk about the release of Khadr from Canadian jail. She reflects on his past history, from his experiences as one of the youngest people imprisoned at Guantanamo to his newfound freedom as the man he is now. She also highlights the “sea of demonization” fueled by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has pushed counterterrorism measures in government that are inspired by anti-Muslim racism.
Khadr suffered torture at the hands of the United States military, which captured him on the battlefield in Afghanistan. He was willing to plead guilty to anything in order to get out of Guantanamo and confessed in 2010 that he threw a grenade, which killed an American soldier, so he would be transferred to Canada.
In 2012, Khadr was brought to Canada where he was jailed to serve his sentence for pleading guilty to committing this war crime. It set a dangerous precedent because he was a child on a battlefield and numerous advocates for child soldiers condemned the fact that the US sought to hold Khadr accountable.
Khadr’s lawyers have appealed his conviction in the US. Although Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government intends to fight to put Khadr back in jail, he is expected to remain free during his appeal.
During the discussion portion, the show’s hosts, Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola, talk about a reparations ordinance that passed in Chicago for police torture survivors, Israel’s parliament becoming even more virulently right-wing and openly supportive of violence, and two federal appeals court decisions of significance. One involves three activists having their Sabotage Act convictions reversed, and the other involves the NSA phone records collection surveillance program being ruled unlawful.
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