Conservative Party of Canada
By: Dana Wagner on
Conservative Party in a Facebook petition on July 7, 2017
Omar Khadr apologized to the widow of Christopher Speer, the U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan in a disputed firefight, at a military commission trial in Guantanamo Bay in 2010. More recently, he apologized to the Speer family for any pain caused by talk of a settlement with the Canadian government.FactsCan Score: False
A lawsuit launched by Omar Khadr against the Government of Canada settled outside of court, and earlier this month, some details became public. The settlement includes a $10.5 million payment and an apology to Khadr.
The 30-year-old Canadian citizen is a controversial figure in Canada, and the settlement has attracted steady criticism from the opposition Conservatives.
The Conservative Party created a petition on Facebook urging “don’t apologize to terrorists.” The petition graphic reads: “Omar Khadr didn’t apologize. Neither should the Canadian government.”
At the time of writing, the petition has over 3,000 likes and has been shared over 600 times on Facebook.
The disputed killing
American soldiers arrested Khadr at the age of 15 at the scene of fighting in Afghanistan that left Christopher Speer, a U.S. soldier, dead. Khadr was accused of throwing the grenade that killed Speer on July 27, 2002.
Initially detained in Afghanistan, Khadr was transferred to Guantanamo Bay prison at age 16 where he faced charges at a military commission trial. Khadr first pleaded not guilty but switched to a guilty plea with the prospect of a transfer to Canadian jail.
Meanwhile, various Canadian courts dealt with other aspects of Khadr’s case. One of the more significant decisions came from the Supreme Court of Canada in 2010. The court found that Canadian officials participated in Khadr’s detention in Guantanamo Bay prison, where his human rights were violated.
Upon transfer to Canada, Khadr’s lawyers appealed the criminal conviction related to Speer’s death. And in 2014, Khadr updated a civil lawsuit against Canada for its role in his foreign detention and treatment. The Trudeau government settled this lawsuit with a payment of $10.5 million and an apology to Khadr.
In subsequent media interviews, Khadr has said he doesn’t know if he threw the grenade that killed Speer or not.
(For more background on Khadr’s history and lawsuit, see this earlier fact check.)
Is it true that Khadr didn’t apologize?
No, this is not true.
We’re assuming the Conservatives meant that Khadr didn’t apologize for his role in the death of Speer. This is problematic because Khadr’s role remains undetermined by a Canadian court, and again, Khadr claims he doesn’t know what his role really was. But the petition doesn’t include this context. As written, the statement is inaccurate.
Khadr apologized during his guilty plea and after retracting it. Although the latter apology isn’t for a direct role in Speer’s death, it is an apology nonetheless.
Khadr apologized to Speer’s widow, Tabitha Speer, during the military commission trial in 2010. The Toronto Star’s Michelle Shephard reported from Guantanamo Bay, and recorded Khadr’s words: “I’m really, really sorry.” Facing Tabitha Speer, Khadr said, “I wish I could do something that would take this pain away from you.”
More recently, Khadr apologized again. In a July 7 interview (at 3:00) with the CBC on the settlement, Khadr said, “I really hope that the talk of settlement or the apology does not cause people pain. And if it does, I’m really sorry for that pain.” About the Speer family in particular, he said, “I’m really sorry for their pain.”
There may be other apologies on record. The Conservative Party’s statement on this Facebook petition is false.
Cory Hann, the Conservative Party director of communications, did not respond to our request for comment.