Omar Khadr is seen at the Detention Centre Oct. 23, 2010 at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Credits: BRYN WEES/QMI AGENCY
On Friday, Vic Toews cited concerns over the release of "very relevant" information from the U.S. on the convicted murderer's mental state, while a justice-advocacy group accused the government of more "foot dragging."
Toews - who sent notice to both U.S. defence secretary Leon Panetta and Khadr's lawyers on Thursday stating classified recordings of interviews between Khadr and two psychiatrists must be released before Khadr's return to Canada can continue - said the recordings are essential for making decisions in the case.
Dr. Michael Welner, one of the psychiatrists who interviewed Khadr during the run-up to the latter's 2010 trial, has said Khadr, 25, is a "dangerous" jihadist who has become even more radical in his ideology while serving time at Guantanamo Bay prison.
Toews said it is his "responsibility ... to ensure that if a transfer is competed, that public safety is paramount," and then put forth a challenge to Khadr's lawyers.
"The defence (lawyer) has indicated he wants Mr. Khadr home. He has access to the material. I'm sure if he wants this matter resolved as quickly as possible, he'll forward that information to me."
Calls to Khadr's Toronto lawyers, John Norris and Brydie Bethell, were not immediately returned.
Khadr, born into a family with ties to al-Quida, has been an inmate of Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba since October 2002 after killing U.S. Sergeant Christopher Speer with a grenade during an altercation with American troops in Afghanistan. Khadr was a teenager at the time.
But Alex Neve of Amnesty International Canada, said the government has "had years" to gather the information it needs to bring Khadr back from the U.S. - a country whose authorities Neve said would not allow Khadr to return north of the border if they considered him a threat.
"It's hard to see this as anything but more foot dragging," Neve said.
Neve also called Welner's assessment of Khar "bigoted," and pointed instead to comments of psychiatrist and former military officer Dr. Stephen Xenakis, who in 2010 deemed Khadr as reformed and not a threat to society.
For its part, the United States department of defense had little to say regarding Toews' letter.
"This is a matter to be worked out by the diplomats and is not appropriate for the U.S. defense Ddepartment to address at this stage," a Pentagon press officer said.
Meanwhile, Toronto resident Shobie Kapoor was relieved when notified of Toews' move.
"(Toews) needs to make a fully-informed decision about (Khadr's) repatriation without compromising public safety and national security," said Kapoor, who started an online petition in April to keep Khadr out of the country.
According to a recent Abacus Data poll, just over half of Canadians surveyed viewed Khadr as a security threat and did not want him repatriated.