Omar Khadr is seen at the Detention Centre Oct. 23, 2010 at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Credits: Bryn Weese/QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA - Omar Khadr is is going through a "challenging adjustment" as he gets his bearings in a Canadian prison, his lawyer says.
John Norris said Monday that Khadr doesn't currently have access to his books and educational material, and that gives him "a real sense of dislocation" as he settles into Millhaven maximum-security penitentiary.
"As awful a place as Guantanamo Bay was, he had built a home for himself there and he's been yanked of that - not that he minds, but it difficult to have access to nothing at the moment," he said.
Still, Norris said he was "very pleased" with how Correctional Service officials are handling the case, noting they appeared to have been caught by surprise by Khadr's sudden arrival Saturday.
"They need some time to get themselves organized and - within limits - we understand that," Norris said. "We're anxious to see what their assessment of Omar's needs is and what they can deliver to him."
The federal government kept Khadr's return under wraps, only confirming he'd arrived in Canada after he'd landed and been transported to the Kingston, ON-area prison. He will be kept there during the intake and assessment period, which Norris estimates could last six weeks.
Khadr, a convicted terrorist, had spent the last 10 years as a Gitmo detainee.
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 years old.
Meanwhile, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is denying Ottawa was feeling the heat from Washington to repatriate Khadr, who was the last Western detainee being held at the US military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Responding to a question from NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar during question period, Toews said: "The transfer of Omar Khadr occurred following a process initiated by the American government and conducted in accordance with Canadian law. It did not include consideration of foreign relations."
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told CTV Question Period on Sunday the US had been pressuring the Conservative government over its reluctance to bring Khadr home.