OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper is sounding unrepentant about his Conservative government’s failed efforts to keep Omar Khadr behind bars.
Harper says Khadr pleaded guilty to serious crimes, including murder, and says the prime minister’s thoughts and prayers are with the family of U.S. Sgt. Christopher Speer.
Khadr, now 28, pleaded guilty in 2010 to throwing the hand grenade that killed Speer, a special forces soldier, during a firefight in Afghanistan in 2002.
Harper says he won’t say anything further, since the matter remains before the courts.
Khadr spent almost 13 years behind bars — four of them as a convicted war criminal.
He was captured, badly wounded, by American forces in Afghanistan in July 2002, when he was 15 years old. At one time, he was the youngest prisoner at the American prison compound in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
After his release on bail Thursday, he offered a comment on Harper’s hard-line stance:
“I’m going to have to disappoint him, I’m better than the person he thinks I am.”
The 28-year-old walked free after an Alberta judge rejected a last-ditch attempt by the federal government to block his release.
Appeal Court Justice Myra Bielby said the government had failed to prove his release would cause serious harm to Canadian interests or pose a risk to the public.
The government expressed disappointment.
His release came with a list of restrictions including wearing a tracking bracelet and a curfew.
The Canadian Press