Canadian Official Says the Last Western Detainee at Guantanamo Repatriated to Canada
The last Western detainee held at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay returned to Canada Saturday after a decade in custody following his capture in Afghanistan at age 15 after being wounded in a firefight with U.S. soldiers, officials said.
Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said that 26-year-old Omar Khadr arrived at a Canadian military base on a U.S. government plane early Saturday and was transferred to the Millhaven maximum security prison in Bath, Ontario.
The son of an alleged al-Qaida financier, Khadr pleaded guilty in 2010 to killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan and was eligible to return to Canada from Guantanamo Bay last October under terms of a plea deal.
But Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government had long refused to request the return of Khadr, the youngest detainee held at Guantanamo. The reluctance was partly due to suspicions about the Khadr family, which has been called “the first family of terrorism.”
The U.S. Defense Department confirmed the transfer in a statement and said 166 detainees remain in detention at Guantanamo Bay.
The Toronto-born Khadr was 15 when he was captured in 2002 in Afghanistan, and has spent a decade at the Guantanamo prison set up on the U.S. naval base in Cuba to hold suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He received an eight-year sentence in 2010 after being convicted of throwing a grenade that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer during a 2002 firefight.