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Canada gives $8M, apology to former Guantanamo prisoner

By Ray Downs
Canada gives $8M, apology to former Guantanamo prisoner
A guard watches over detainees in Camp IV in Camp Delta at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba on July 8, 2010. Omar Khadr, captured in Afghanistan at the age of 15, spent several years in detention at Guantanamo Bay. File Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI | License Photo

July 4 (UPI) -- The Canadian government will give $8 million and an apology to a citizen accused of killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan for abuses he endured while detained by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In 2002, U.S. special forces captured Khadr after a firefight with al-Qaida forces in southeast Afganistan. Khadr is suspected of throwing a grenade that killed Special Forces Sgt. Christopher Speer and injuring Sgt. Layne Morris.

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A Canadian court ruled that because Omar Khadr was 15 years old at the time of the firefight, he should have been protected by Canada under international child soldier laws. Instead, the government conspired with the U.S. to convict and imprison Khadr. While in U.S. detention, Khadr was subjected to emotional and physical abuse, including beatings, threats of rape and being hogtied until he urinated on himself.

In all, Khadr spent 13 years in U.S. military detention before he was released in Canada on probation in May 2015.

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Due to Khadr's age and international laws meant to protect child soldiers from normal war crime prosecutions, his case has drawn criticism.

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In 2008, the United Nations Children's Fund said charging Khadr for war crimes, "in particular in front of a military commission not equipped to meet the required standards, would set a dangerous precedent for the protection of hundreds of thousands of children who find themselves unwittingly involved in conflict around the world," the agency said in a statement.

Morris, who lost vision in one eye from the grenade attack and has since retired form the military, spoke out against Khadr's release in 2015.

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"This is a man who has demonstrated a willingness and a capability to do great harm to Canadian society and Western interests in general," he said at the time.

Khadr was raised in a militant family in Toronto, taught bombmaking and marksmanship by his father before the age of 12 and sent to Afghanistan to fight the U.S. military with his father and brothers when he was 14.

Now 30, he has expresses remorse for his actions in the war between al-Qaida and the United States.

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"I'm sorry for the pain I've caused for the families of the victims," he told reporters after his 2015 release. "There's nothing I can do about the past but I can do something about the future."

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