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In this Feb. 26, 2019 photo, former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr and his lawyer Nate Whitling speak with media outside the courthouse in Edmonton, Canada.JASON FRANSON/The Associated Press

Former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton told Omar Khadr’s lawyer over a decade ago that Washington was prepared to repatriate the Canadian citizen and Guantanamo Bay detainee, but then-prime minister Stephen Harper was blocking the move, according to a new book.

That would appear to contradict the Harper government’s insistence that it was refusing to request the former child soldier’s return to Canada out of deference to U.S. sovereignty and the American judicial process.

In his account of the Khadr affair, which will be published in French on Wednesday, the Quebec legal scholar Frédéric Bérard writes that Mr. Khadr’s lawyer Dennis Edney had assurances from the highest levels of the U.S. government that it was Canadian reluctance preventing the transfer.

A broad spectrum of Canadian political parties and civil society groups were then calling for repatriation, a common move pursued by a host of European countries that had citizens detained at the American prison in Cuba.

Mr. Khadr – who later pleaded guilty to terrorism charges based on an accusation that he threw a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan when he was 15 – could then have been tried as a minor by Canadian courts, instead of as an adult by a U.S. military commission.

The Harper government maintained at the time that it was constrained by the U.S. legal and political process. Even after the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama, who promised to close Guantanamo Bay, Canadian foreign affairs minister Lawrence Cannon defended inaction in the Khadr case by saying his government intended to “respect the sovereignty of the United States on that question.”

In legal arguments before a federal court, meanwhile, the Crown argued that there was a “one in a million” chance that the U.S. would accept Canada’s repatriation request.

Around the same time, however, the U.S. secretary of state herself told Mr. Edney that although “Washington was ok with the transfer, it remained impossible as long as Harper was opposed,” Mr. Bérard writes.

The doctor of law and partner at the Montreal law firm Gattuso Bouchard Mazzone interviewed Mr. Edney, who has been reluctant to speak about the case in recent years and did not respond to The Globe’s requests for comment. Ms. Clinton also did not respond to requests for comment.

Anna Tomala, Mr. Harper’s chief of staff, wrote in a brief statement: “Former Prime Minister Harper’s opposition is well noted on public record.” She pointed to his statement denouncing the $10.5-million settlement Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government reached with Mr. Khadr in 2017 for the federal government’s violation of his rights.

When the issue of Mr. Khadr’s repatriation was most in play, however, the Harper government’s position was consistently one of deference to the U.S., not outright opposition. “We respect the process put in place by the American government and we will await the outcome of that process,” said Mr. Cannon after a meeting with Ms. Clinton in 2009 in which they discussed the Khadr case.

There have been previous indications that the U.S. in fact offered to repatriate Mr. Khadr and that Canada refused. Mr. Edney has said as much in the past.

But the apparent assent of an official as senior as Ms. Clinton would make Mr. Harper’s refusal to repatriate especially “outrageous,” said Huda Mukbil, a security consultant, author, and former senior intelligence officer at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

“Canada had an obligation to repatriate him and if he actively blocked it, that’s a shameful, shameful act by Harper.”

The book by Mr. Bérard – J’accuse les tortionnaires d’Omar Khadr (I Accuse the Torturers of Omar Khadr), which the author provided to The Globe prior to publication – paints a picture of a government determined to keep Mr. Khadr away from Canadian soil, argued France-Isabelle Langlois, director-general of the francophone branch of Amnesty International Canada.

“It shows everything we did here in Canada to make sure he wasn’t repatriated,” said Ms. Langlois, who has also read the book. “That’s what was shocking, including the statement by Clinton.”

In 2009, a Federal Court judge ordered the Harper government to repatriate Mr. Khadr as a remedy against violations of his rights while imprisoned in Guantanamo, where Canadian officials interrogated him without a lawyer, while he was still a minor. The Federal Court of Appeal upheld the order.

After another government appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that it was up to the government how to remedy the violation of Mr. Khadr’s Charter rights.

Facing the possibility of a life sentence if he was convicted by the U.S. military commission, Mr. Khadr pleaded guilty in exchange for an eight-year sentence, part of which would be served in Canada. He was released on bail in 2015 and in 2019 an Alberta judge ruled that his sentence had formally expired.

During his decade in Guantanamo Bay, Mr. Khadr was reportedly subjected to treatment that Mr. Trudeau later called “torture,” including severe sleep deprivation and being dragged across the floor through his own urine.

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