The Ontario Court of Appeal has upheld a decision to halt extradition proceedings for an alleged al-Qaeda arms supplier, citing the extent of US human rights abuses tied to his capture in Pakistan.
A 3-0 ruling by the court ruled that a Toronto judge was justified in releasing Abdullah Khadr, the older brother of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp’s youngest detainee, Omar Khadr. Both are Canadian.
RULE OF LAW
Khadr’s lawyer Dennis Edney hailed what he called a “victory for the rule of law.”
“Evidence should be [obtained while respecting] human rights, and it was not,” he said.
The US had requested Khadr’s extradition to Boston, where he is wanted on charges of providing weapons to al-Qaeda to be used against US and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
He was released in August last year, at which time Justice Christopher Speyer said Khadr had suffered “shocking and unjustifiable” human rights violations, including being physically mistreated and abused. However, the Ontario court suggested that releasing Khadr to the US would be tantamount to being complicit in his alleged torture.
The US paid Pakistani intelligence services US$500,000 to abduct Khadr in Islamabad in 2004, according to court documents. During his 14-month detention at a secret site in Pakistan, Khadr admitted under interrogation that he had purchased arms for al--Qaeda. However, he later claimed he had been tortured during his detention.
“The rule of law must prevail even in the face of the dreadful threat of terrorism,” said Justice Robert Sharpe, writing on behalf of Justices John Laskin and Eleanore Cronk.
“Because of the requesting state’s misconduct, proceeding with the extradition committal hearing threatened the court’s integrity.”
The Canadian federal government has 60 days to appeal.
Sharpe said that in Pakistan, “it is illegal to accept a bounty or bribe from a foreign government, to abduct a foreign national from the street, to beat that individual until he agrees to cooperate, to deny him consular access, to hold him in a secret detention center for eight months while his utility as an intelligence source is exhausted and then to continue to hold him in secret detention for six more months at the request of a foreign power.”
Khadr’s father, Ahmed Said Khadr, an Egyptian-born Canadian killed in Pakistan in October 2003, was “a senior al-Qaeda financier and reportedly the fourth in command underneath Osama bin Laden in the al-Qaeda organization,” US military analysts said in once secret files released by WikiLeaks.
A US military tribunal sentenced Toronto-born Omar Khadr to 40 years in prison in October after he pleaded guilty to throwing a grenade that killed a US sergeant in Afghanistan in 2002. He was only 15 at the time.
However, a plea deal meant his actual sentence was only eight years — including a provision that he could seek a transfer to Canada after an initial year at Guantanamo.