A Canadian man who spent 10 years at Guantanamo Bay after fighting US troops in Afghanistan is getting more than $10 million and an apology from the Canadian government, according to media reports.
Omar Khadr, 30, had sued the Canadian government for violating international law by allegedly not protecting its citizen and conspiring with his US captors, who he says abused him.
Under a plea deal with US military prosecutors in 2010, Khadr admitted to throwing a grenade during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan that killed a member of a US Army Special Forces unit. He was 15 at the time of the blast.
On Tuesday, the Toronto Star reported he will receive less than the $20 million he was seeking but more than $10 million Canadian (US $8 million).
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, when asked Tuesday about the settlement and the apology, said to CNN partner CBC News and other media: “There is a judicial process underway that has been underway for a number of years now and we are anticipating I think, a number of people are, the judicial process is coming to its conclusion.”
The reported settlement decision upset Canadian conservatives because Khadr in 2010 admitted in a plea agreement that he had thrown a grenade that killed a coalition soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, a member of a US Army Special Forces unit.
US Sgt. Layne Morris was severely wounded in the blast and is blind in one eye.
“I’m very familiar with the Khadr family. This is the third generation of Khadrs that owe humanity an apology, not the other way around,” Morris told CNN. “I shudder to think what $10 million (about $8 million US) in the hands of an avowed and accomplished terrorist will do.”
Morris was referring to Khadr’s Egyptian-born father, who was accused of being an al Qaeda money man with ties to Osama bin Laden. Ahmad Khadr brought his family to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he met al Qaeda figures including bin Laden and underwent terrorism training. The elder Khadr was killed by Pakistani troops in 2003.
Jason Kenney, the leader of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta was upset by the reported settlement.
“This confessed terrorist should be in prison paying for his crimes, not profiting from them at the expense of Canadian taxpayers,” Kenney tweeted.
Khadr’s case has sparked controversy among Canadians through the years.
Many have said his sentence was too lenient. Others said he should have been treated as a child soldier and Khadr’s supporters point to alleged mistreatment while in custody at Guantanamo, where he was the youngest detainee. The US military has in the past denied any abuse.
Khadr pleaded guilty to murder, attempted murder, providing material support for terrorism, spying and conspiracy in 2010 under the condition that he would serve most of the sentence in Canada, his attorneys said. As part of the deal, Khadr received an eight-year sentence with no credit for time served. In 2012, Khadr was transferred from Guantanamo naval base in Cuba to his homeland of Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence. In 2015, a judge granted him bail while he appealed his convictions.
The appeal is ongoing, according to media reports.
The Star reported that Khadr told them in 2015 he was unsure whether he threw the grenade that mortally wounded Speer. He told the newspaper he saw the plea deal as the way to get out of prison.
CNN reached out to Khadr’s attorneys Tuesday but didn’t get a response.
Public Safety Canada spokesman Andrew Gowling said there would be no comment from his department because settlements are private.
Morris and Speer’s widow sued Khadr in US court, winning a $134 million judgment. But it is unlikely they will be able to collect any money because Khadr lives in Canada.
CNN also reach out to Tabitha Speer, the sergeant’s widow, but she didn’t return a call for comment.