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Podcast: Omar Khadr’s Newfound Freedom Amidst ‘Sea of Demonization’ in Canada

Janice Williamson

Janice Williamson

Omar Khadr, who was once one of the youngest prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, was released on bail in Canada on Thursday. He said of his newfound freedom that what he was experiencing was “much better” than he had thought it would be.

On this week’s “Unauthorized Disclosure” episode, Janice Williamson, editor of the book, Omar Khadr: Oh Canada, and a professor at the University of Alberta, joins the show to talk about the release of Khadr from Canadian jail. She reflects on his past history, from his experiences as one of the youngest people imprisoned at Guantanamo to his newfound freedom as the man he is now. She also highlights the “sea of demonization” fueled by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has pushed counterterrorism measures in government that are inspired by anti-Muslim racism.

Khadr suffered torture at the hands of the United States military, which captured him on the battlefield in Afghanistan. He was willing to plead guilty to anything in order to get out of Guantanamo and confessed in 2010 that he threw a grenade, which killed an American soldier, so he would be transferred to Canada.

In 2012, Khadr was brought to Canada where he was jailed to serve his sentence for pleading guilty to committing this war crime. It set a dangerous precedent because he was a child on a battlefield and numerous advocates for child soldiers condemned the fact that the US sought to hold Khadr accountable.

Khadr’s lawyers have appealed his conviction in the US. Although Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government intends to fight to put Khadr back in jail, he is expected to remain free during his appeal.

During the discussion portion, the show’s hosts, Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola, talk about a reparations ordinance that passed in Chicago for police torture survivors, Israel’s parliament becoming even more virulently right-wing and openly supportive of violence, and two federal appeals court decisions of significance. One involves three activists having their Sabotage Act convictions reversed, and the other involves the NSA phone records collection surveillance program being ruled unlawful.

The podcast is available on iTunes for download. For a link (and also to download the episode), go here. Click on “go here” and a page will load with the audio file of the podcast. The file will automatically start playing so you can listen to the episode.

The episode can also be heard by clicking “play” on the below player:

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."

5 Comments

  1. Shaf
    May 10, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Thank you. Thank you for your incredibly fearless journalism. You are probably one of the only publications I keep an eye on. Keep up the awesome work.

  2. kgosztola
    May 10, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    Thanks for your regular support.

  3. Janice Williamson
    May 10, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Just a note for those who would like more information about Omar Khadr. The Free Omar Khadr Now group has a website with much information including a fund to support his legal costs: http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB4QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Ffreeomar.ca%2F&ei=B5RPVYyQGK7jsASMl4GYDw&usg=AFQjCNE-TbdDPVfeNCYozyVdsQ6syl8aBw&bvm=bv.92885102,d.cWc

    For those of you interested in details about Omar’s appeal, Sam Morison, US lawyer in charge of Omar’s US appeal gave a terrific talk in Canada and the video is available here. http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB4QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Ffreeomarakhadr.com%2Flegal%2Fsam-morison-u-s-pentagon-dod-lawyer-appeals-omars-guantanamo-conviction%2F&ei=O5pPVaLHMe_msAT5lYC4Dw&usg=AFQjCNEHYsHcKn0SIEoIL6-5qWFGLhBLCg&bvm=bv.92885102,d.cWc

    For more information about the Christian Right in Canada is Marci MacDonald’s The Armaggedon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada. And she has a short article here about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s formation: http://thewalrus.ca/the-man-behind-stephen-harper/

    The University of Toronto Faculty of Law archives some of the documents related to Omar Khadr’s case from 2002 to 2010: http://library.law.utoronto.ca/khadr-case-resources-page

    Michelle Shephard’s biography is Guantanamo’s Child: is a biography of Omar Khadr: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr (2008). You can follow her ongoing commentary in The Toronto Star.

    Canada’s War on Terror has many chapters.
    See Monia Mazigh’s memoir Hope & Despair: My Struggle to Free My Husband Maher Arar on the battle to free Canadian citizen Maher Arar during 2002-3 when he was taken by extraordinary rendition to ten months of torture in Syria.

    Lawyer Robert Diab’s Guantanamo North: Terrorism and the Administration of Justice in Canada (2009)

    Sherene Razack has written a number of excellent books and this is one of them I mention:
    Casting Out: The Eviction of Muslims from Western Law and Politics (2008)

    And a note: there is at least one factual error in my commentary I would like to correct. Bill C-51, Canada’s “anti-terrorism act” was just passed by Parliament this week (the Liberals supported the Conservatives.) It is now on its way to the Senate for debate. One of the best sources of information on this dastardly bill is this website created by two legal scholars Craig Forcese and Kent Roach:
    http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CDQQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fantiterrorlaw.ca%2F&ei=UptPVfeoA87IsASx9YAI&usg=AFQjCNELKEhDx2D0NAd-VZRf8yx4ShsuSg&bvm=bv.92885102,d.cWc

    There is of course also an archive of scholarly work on related topics.

  4. Paul_Repstock
    May 10, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Thank you all; for all that you are doing. Omar Khadar’s treatment is sandpaper on my soul.

  5. kgosztola
    May 10, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks for all this information, and thanks once more for being a guest on the show this week.