05/07/2015 12:43 pm ET Updated May 07, 2015

Omar Khadr, Once Guantanamo Bay's Youngest Inmate, Freed On Bail In Canada

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CALGARY, Alberta, May 7 (Reuters) - Omar Khadr, a Canadian who was once the youngest prisoner held at Guantanamo Bay before being transferred to an Alberta prison in 2012, will be released Thursday on bail while he appeals a murder conviction by a U.S. military tribunal, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

A Canadian judge ruled that Khadr, who was captured in Afghanistan when he was 15 and pleaded guilty to killing a U.S. soldier, could be released on bail, denying an appeal by the federal government to keep him in custody.

"(Omar) Khadr, you're free to go," Justice Myra Bielby told a packed courtroom in Edmonton, Alberta.

The case of Khadr, 28, has divided Canadians. While the Canadian government has opposed his release, human rights advocates such as Amnesty International have argued that the one-time child soldier has been denied access to due process.

Bail conditions imposed by an Alberta court include that Khadr wears an electronic monitoring device, lives with his lawyer in Edmonton, observes a nightly curfew, and has only monitored contact with his family.

A judge had ruled in April that he should be released on bail, but the conservative Canadian government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which has opposed any effort to free Khadr, appealed, arguing that his release would harm Canada's relationship with the United States.

The Canadian Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that Canada breached Khadr's rights by sending intelligence agents to interrogate him at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in both 2003 and 2004, and by sharing the results with the United States.

Canadian-born Khadr was the first person since World War Two to be prosecuted in a war crimes tribunal for acts committed as a juvenile.

Khadr was taken to Afghanistan by his father, a senior al Qaeda member, who apprenticed the boy to a group of bomb makers who opened fire when U.S. troops went to their compound. A firefight followed, during which Khadr was blinded in one eye and shot twice in the back, and he was captured. (Reporting by Andrea Hopkins; Editing by Bernadette Baum)



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