The Harper government is going to the Supreme Court in an effort to avoid bringing Omar Khadr home from a U.S. military prison.
The government announced today that it will seek leave to appeal a Federal Court of Appeal ruling this month. That ruling upheld a court order that Ottawa bring the 22-year-old prisoner back to Canada as soon as possible.
Ottawa has consistently refused to ask the United States to return Khadr from its prison in Guantanamo Bay.
The Toronto-born Khadr has been held at Guantanamo for seven years.
He is accused of throwing a grenade that killed an American soldier in Afghanistan.
Documents and testimony have shown he was mistreated by U.S. interrogators.
“The government of Canada has consistently stated that Omar Khadr faces serious charges,” said a statement from the office of Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon.
“After careful consideration of the legal merits of the ruling from the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal, the government has decided to seek leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.”
The statement notes that Khadr faces murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, material support for terrorism and spying charges – “all in violation of the laws of war.”
It does not address the issue of Khadr’s age and the fact that he was a minor at the time the alleged offences took place.
The statement notes that U.S. President Barack Obama has not told Ottawa of any conclusive decision regarding Khadr.
The Obama administration plans to close Guantanamo and has put trials on hold while it re-evaluates all cases.
“It is in our interest to wait for the outcome of these decisions just put forward by President Obama,” the statement says.
“We continue to closely monitor the situation, including the work of the American committee formed to study the fate of Guantanamo detainees, including Mr. Khadr.”
Departmental officials have made several “welfare visits” to Khadr and will continue to do so, it says.
“We will not speculate on hypothetical scenarios.”