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A timeline: The life of Omar Khadr Add to ...

If all goes well for Omar Khadr, he could be a free man by Canada Day of 2013. By then, he will be nearly 27 years old.

He could have had it far worse. If the Canadian-born Mr. Khadr hadn't agreed to plead guilty to murder, terrorism and spying in exchange for an additional eight years in prison, Canada's only living war criminal could have been waiting for release until 2050, when the 40-year-sentence decided by a panel of senior U.S. military officers would have ended.

However, under the plea deal, Mr. Khadr is entitled - but not required - to seek repatriation to Canada after spending one more year in the infamous Guantanamo prisons.

The Canadian government - despite years of refusing to help Mr. Khadr - has confirmed it will "favourably consider Mr. Khadr's application to be transferred to Canada." That means Mr. Khadr could be in a Canadian penitentiary by next November.

After that, he would be eligible for parole in Canada after serving one-third of his eight-year sentence. However, under the terms of Canada's International Transfer of Offenders Act, which covers Mr. Khadr's case, he gets no credit for the eight years in pre-trial U.S. custody - first at Bagram in Afghanistan and, since 2002, in Guantanamo Bay - in calculating his eligibility for parole.

Under the latest version of the U.S. war-crimes trials, time served before conviction doesn't count - as is usually the case in criminal courts - and can't be subtracted from the sentence. And if it isn't counted by the foreign government, Canadian law says it can't be counted for a prisoner seeking to serve out his sentence at home.

His father, senior al-Qaeda figure Ahmed Said Khadr, moved the family to Pakistan in 1996 when Mr. Khadr was nine years old. Aside from a short visit in 2001, it seems likely Mr. Khadr won't be free in Canada again until the summer of 2013.

Follow on Twitter: @PaulKoring

 

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