Last week a federal court ruled against The Toronto Star, the CBC and White Pine Pictures as they sought permission to interview federal inmate Omar Khadr. Justice Richard Mosley of the Federal Court of Canada agreed with Nancy Shore, acting warden of the Bowden Institution (where Khadr is currently detained), that an on-camera interview would disrupt operations of the prison and require a full lock-down of the institution. Justice Mosley also stated that “a penitentiary is not a place where the public has an expectation of exercising its right to freedom of expression.”
Khadr, a former Guantanamo detainee, is now partway through an eight-year sentence at the federal prison in Alberta. His sentence ends in 2018, but his bail application could see him released from prison as early as this spring. Canadians have a significant and justified interest in hearing from Khadr, whose controversial case has sparked important discussions about the treatment of war criminals and child soldiers.
CJFE is discouraged by this ruling. We firmly believe that Canadians should be able to see and hear from Khadr directly to form their own opinions of him and his story. While the government has frequently spoken about Khadr’s case, he has not had the opportunity to speak freely and openly about his own 13-year ordeal, including his experiences in U.S. custody.
CJFE continues to urge the Bowden Institution to allow media access to interview Omar Khadr. This issue impacts free expression, press freedom, and the public’s right to know in Canada. These constitutionally protected rights are critical to maintaining an informed public, and Canadians deserve to hear from both sides before Khadr’s eventual release from prison.
For more information: Let’s hear from Omar Khadr.