EDMONTON — A judge has agreed to ease some of the bail conditions for former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr.
Khadr’s curfew is being relaxed to allow him to attend night classes and early-morning prayers. Court heard Khadr is studying to become an emergency medical technician.
“It allows Mr. Khadr to fully progress in some of the educational programs he’s attending,” Khadr’s lawyer, Dennis Edney, said outside the Edmonton courtroom Friday.
“Night classes finish at 10 (p.m.). He would have to leave a night class earlier to satisfy the present curfew. Now the court is allowing him to be able to attend the night class and completely finish it, then make his way home in reasonable time.
“It’s very helpful.”
Khadr also wants to be able to visit his family in Toronto and get rid of his electronic monitoring bracelet.
Justice June Ross reserved her decision on those requests. Khadr is to appear in court again next Friday.
Khadr, the bracelet visible on his left ankle, arrived in court with two supporters and took a seat in the front row.
Standing beside Edney, Khadr smiled but declined to answer questions from reporters after the hearing.
In May, an Edmonton judge released Khadr on bail, pending an appeal in the United States of his conviction for war crimes, including the murder of an American soldier.
Bail conditions included that he only communicate with his family in English and under supervision and that he live with Edney.
Khadr was 15 when he was captured following a firefight in Afghanistan in 2002, and became the youngest prisoner at the time to be held in Guantanamo.
In 2010, a U.S. military commission sentenced him to another eight years behind bars and he was transferred home to Canada in 2012.
Some of Khadr’s family have expressed pro-al-Qaida views in the past. Khadr said in an affidavit that they are not involved in any illegal activity and he’s now an independent adult.
“Even if the members of my family were to wish to influence my religious or other views, they would not be able to control or influence me in any negative manner,” said the 29-year-old.
He said his grandmother in Toronto is ill and his grandfather barely speaks English. He wants to be able to visit them alone and to also see his mother, siblings and other relatives while in Toronto.
He also said his electronic ankle bracelet is uncomfortable and has mistakenly gone off several times.
Lawyer Nathan Whitling said in the court application that his client’s bail conditions were “no longer necessary or in the public interest.”
The federal government did not oppose the changes Ross approved Friday.
It is appealing the original bail decision. It has frequently branded Khadr an unrepentant terrorist and said he should serve his full sentence.