Relatives of slain U.S. soldier want urgent freeze on Omar Khadr’s assets

By , on July 11, 2017


Undated family photo of Omar Khadr. (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)
Undated family photo of Omar Khadr. (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

TORONTO—The widow of an American soldier killed in Afghanistan will ask a Canadian court on Thursday for an urgent order aimed at preserving any money the federal government paid former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr for breaching his rights, new documents show.

The motion before Ontario Superior Court asks for a freeze on his money — the government reportedly paid Khadr $10.5 million last week — pending the outcome of a request to recognize a US$134.1-million Utah judgment against him.

The default American judgment was handed down in 2015 in Utah in favour of Sgt. Chris Speer’s widow Tabitha and that of another former American soldier, Layne Morris.

“If the assets are not frozen pending the hearing of the application, there may be no assets left in Canada upon which the applicants may execute,” their factum states. “The applicants have repeatedly requested assurances that the assets will not be dissipated. There has been no response.”

The motion also calls on the court to order Khadr to “provide an accounting of the settlement funds, and the current location of all such funds, or property acquired thereby.”

The Utah judgment is based on Khadr’s admission before a discredited military commission in Guantanamo Bay in 2010 — subsequently recanted — that he threw a grenade that killed Speer after a fierce battle in Afghanistan in July 2002 in which Morris was blinded in one eye.

Khadr, now 30, did not defend the suit because he was in prison in Canada at the time.

“It appears that a conscious decision was made not to respond to the Utah action,” the factum states. “The allegations contained in the complaint were deemed to be admitted when Khadr was noted in default in Utah.”

Last Friday, the Canadian government apologized to Khadr as part of a settlement of his civil lawsuit for breaches of his rights during his imprisonment by the Americans in Guantanamo. The government did not confirm the reported $10.5-million payout.

In support of their motion, Speer and Morris lean heavily on Canadian news reports about the money, and about steps he took to ensure the payment was sheltered to prevent Speer’s lawyers from getting at it.

“One may reasonably infer that Khadr may provide some of the settlement funds to his family members, who appear to be unrepentant supporters of violent extremists,” the documents state.

As word broke early last week about the government’s settlement with Khadr, Speer’s Canadian lawyer wrote a Justice Department lawyer to press their points.

In response, the documents show, a government lawyer wrote that the settlement process was confidential and that he “could not answer whether the settlement was finalized and whether funds have been paid to Khadr.”

Khadr’s lawyer, Nate Whitling, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

American forces captured a badly wounded 15-year-old Khadr following the battle in which Speer was killed. He spent 10 years in Guantanamo Bay before returning to prison in Canada. He was freed on bail while he appeals his military commission conviction in 2015.