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MacKay’s activist wife calls for Ottawa to bring back Omar Khadr

Nazanin Afshin-Jam and her husband Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, at the 2012 Garrison Ball in Toronto.

JJ Thompson/The Globe and Mail

Defence Minister Peter MacKay's wife says Ottawa should bring Omar Khadr back to Canada immediately.

Nazanin Afshin-Jam told The Guardian, a Prince Edward Island newspaper, on Wednesday that the 25-year-old Canadian should be repatriated from Guantanamo Bay. For close to a decade, Mr. Khadr has been a prisoner there, following his arrest in Afghanistan in 2002.

As part of a plea-bargain deal in 2010, Mr. Khadr agreed to plead guilty to multiple charges. This included confessing to throwing a grenade at age 15 in Afghanistan that killed a U.S. soldier.

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Mr. Khadr was given an eight-year sentence, with only one year to be served at the U.S. naval station on a leased base in Cuba. He's been eligible to come to Canada since the fall of 2011, but the Conservative government, known for its reluctance to repatriate Canadians imprisoned abroad, has been slow to act.

On Wednesday, Ms. Afshin-Jam, a human-rights activist, joined those calling for Mr. Khadr's return, including Alex Neve, the secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada.

"Omar Khadr was a child when he was involved in combat under the UN [United Nations] definition and so we should abide by the international laws and rules that we expect of other countries as well," Ms. Afshin-Jam told The Guardian.

"So I'm not saying that he shouldn't be kept in prison but definitely I think it's time to bring him back to Canada. He was a Canadian citizen and he can be tried here or looked after here in terms of how long his sentence is going to be or what is going to be his fate."

Ms. Afshin-Jam was in Charlottetown Wednesday to speak at a Progressive Conservative Association dinner.

Last week, The Globe and Mail reported that the Conservatives now say the U.S. must hand over raw footage of psychiatric interviews with the prisoner. One interview was conducted by an expert for the prosecution who testified Mr. Khadr posed grave risks if freed, according to a July 19 letter from Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, which was obtained by The Globe.

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