NEWS

Omar Khadr seeks bail while appealing U.S. war crime conviction

03/24/2015 08:00 EDT | Updated 05/24/2015 05:59 EDT
Omar Khadr’s lawyer will be in an Edmonton courtroom Tuesday morning, trying to persuade a judge that his client should be allowed out on bail while he appeals his U.S. conviction for war crimes.

Dennis Edney will argue that Khadr, who pleaded guilty to throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan 13 years ago, is not a danger to the public.

"He shows himself to be a diligent, thoughtful, dedicated student,” Edney told CBC News.

Khadr, 28, was the arrested in 2002 and held in Guantanamo Bay for eight years before being returned to Canada. He is currently housed at the Bowden Institution, a medium-security prison in Alberta.

Although he pleaded guilty to the charges in 2010, Khadr has since appealed the conviction. He argues that his actions are not considered war crimes under either U.S. or international law and that he only pleaded guilty to escape indefinite detention in Cuba.

Edney said there had been community support for releasing Khadr, and that he has been invited to attend King’s University, a Christian institution in Edmonton that has tutored him for several years. The lawyer said Khadr is invited to live in his home if released.

"I am lending a hand of providing a home for him in a good family … to get on with his life,” he said.

The federal government has argued that since Khadr’s plea deal was with the U.S. government, the Canadian court has no authority to grant bail.

Furthermore, it says his release would undermine public faith in the justice system and damage relations with the U.S.

In January, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Steve Blaney told CBC News that the government has “vigorously defended against any attempt to lessen his punishment for these crimes.”

The bail hearing is expected to last two days.

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