Millhaven Institution is pictured in Bath, Ont., just East of Kingston on Saturday Sept. 29, 2012. Canadian citizen Omar Khadr has landed in Canada and been transferred to Millhaven Institution, after leaving Guantanamo Bay to serve the remainder of his sentence.
Credits: Nam Phi Dang/QMI Agency
OTTAWA - After a slew of court challenges demanding his homecoming and a decade in Guantanamo Bay, convicted terrorist Omar Khadr is back in Canada.
Khadr landed at CFB Trenton military base Saturday morning after being transported from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, aboard a U.S. government plane and was then brought to Millhaven maximum-security prison in Bath, Ont.
In a hastily organized news conference in Winnipeg, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Khadr is now in the hands of Canada's correctional services, which he is satisfied it can "administer Omar Khadr's sentence in a manner which recognizes the serious nature of the crimes that he has committed and ensure the safety of Canadians is protected during incarceration."
The 26-year-old Toronto-native struck a plea deal in 2010 that saw him sentenced to eight years in prison for five war crimes, including killing U.S. special forces medic Christopher Speer 10 years ago in an Afghan firefight.
He was captured in 2002 when he was 15.
Despite green-lighting the repatriation, Toews expressed several concerns about the case to the media Saturday.
These included that Khadr has "had very little contact with Canadian society and therefore will require substantial management in order to ensure safe reintegration" and that he has "participated in terrorist training, military operations, and meetings involving al-Qaida leadership."
Brydie Bethell, one of Khadr's Canadian lawyers, said her client is relieved to be back on Canadian soil, and described him as being "in a state of disbelief and really pinching himself wondering when he's going to wake up from this dream."
"This is someone the correctional authorities will think is a miracle. He's the kind of prisoner they hope everyone would be," she added.
His advocates - many who maintain he was a child soldier at the time of his capture - were cheering his return Saturday.
They included Amnesty International Canada and the federal New Democrats and Liberals - though the Grits didn't push for his repatriation when they were in power before 2006.
Ottawa could be on the hook for multi-million dollar payout after the Supreme Court ruled in 2010 Khadr's charter rights were violated during his time in U.S. custody.
A Canadian citizen and the last Western detainee held at Guantanamo Bay, Khadr had been petitioning the Canadian government for his return since as early as 2005.
As per a diplomatic agreement signed between the U.S. and Canada in 2010 regarding Khadr's repatriation, his personal transfer application landed on Toews' desk in March 2011 and the minister received the formal U.S. application in April.
Omar Khadr: A timeline of events
1986: Omar Khadr is born in Toronto's Scarborough neighbourhood.
1986-1995: He lives with his family in Pakistan.
1996: The Khadrs return to Canada, but the father, Ahmed Said Khadr, returns to Pakistan. He relocates to Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where he lives on Osama bin Laden's compound.
1996: Khadr begins attending an al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan, where he receives weapons training.
1999: The Khadrs move to Kabul.
October, 2001: Ahmed Said Khadr is named on a list of terrorists wanted by the FBI in connection to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
July 27, 2002: Khadr is shot three times in a firefight with U.S. troops at a compound in Afghanistan. He is taken into custody at Bagram Air Base, where he is treated for his injuries and interrogated.
October, 2002: Khadr is sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
April 23, 2009: Federal Court Judge James O'Reilly rules the federal government violated Khadr's charter rights by refusing to demand his release.
June 2009: The government appeals the Federal Court ruling that orders Khadr's repatriation.
Aug. 14, 2009: The Federal Court of Appeal upholds Judge O'Reilly's ruling.
January 2010: The Supreme Court of Canada refrains from ordering the government to seek Khadr's repatriation, but rules that Canada has violated his charter rights by participating in illegal interrogation methods.
February 2010: Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon says the federal government will not seek Khadr's repatriation.
July 2010: Khadr fires his three U.S. lawyers.
Aug. 12, 2010: Khadr's trial begins.
Oct. 2010: Khadr agrees to plead guilty to all war crimes charges.
Sept. 29, 2012: Khadr arrives at CFB Trenton military base aboard a U.S. government aircraft. He is transported to Millhaven Institution, a maximum-security penitentiary in Bath, Ont.