The Canadian media have no right to interview Omar Khadr, a federal judge has ruled.

By Grant Buckler

The Canadian media have no right to interview Omar Khadr, a federal judge has ruled.

Judge Richard Mosley of the Federal Court of Canada agreed with the acting warden of Bowden Institution, where Khadr has been held since being transferred from Guantanamo Bay, that a face-to-face interview would pose a threat to the safety of Khadr, the staff and other inmates.

Michelle Shephard, a Toronto Star reporter, had requested the video interview, which would have appeared on the Star’s website and in a CBC documentary she is co-directing with filmmaker Patrick Reed, according to the Star.

Acting warden Nancy Shore refused, saying an interview would endanger the prison where Khadr is being held, inflame the inmate population and “cause security/safety incidents.”

The Star, CBC and White Pine Pictures launched the court action in hopes of having Shore’s decision overruled, arguing that the denial ignored the public’s right to know, the freedom of the press and Khadr’s freedom of expression.

In 2013, the warden of Millhaven Institution, where Khadr then was, approved an interview request from The Canadian Press, but Vic Toews, then Minister of Public Safety, overruled the warden and forbade the interview, a move some denounced as “extraordinary political interference,” according to a CBC report at the time.

The Canadian Press reported that Mosley called that episode “ancient history.” While his decision referred to “the unfortunate history of apparent interference and public statements by government officials since Mr. Khadr’s repatriation,” Mosley concluded there was no evidence Shore’s decision was not made in good faith.

The Star reported that John Philips, lawyer for the media outlets, said the judge felt his hands were tied by legal precedents limiting a judge’s ability to overrule prison officials.

Grant Buckler is a retired freelance journalist and a volunteer with Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and lives in Kingston, Ont.