The CBC, Toronto Star and documentary producer White Pine Pictures are taking the federal government to court to ask that Omar Khadr be allowed to be interviewed by the media. 

Image courtesy of Canadian Press

By Tamara Baluja, Associate Editor

The CBC, Toronto Star and documentary producer White Pine Pictures are taking the federal government to court to ask that Omar Khadr be allowed to be interviewed by the media.

The former Guantanamo Bay detainee is willing to talk to the media, according to the CBC, but Correctional Service Canada and Public Safety Canada have repeatedly blocked media requests.

"It's really our last resort," the Toronto Star’s national security reporter Michelle Shephard said on CBC Toronto’s Metro Morning. "This is not something that we want to do, but we've been blocked at every point to try and get access to him—and it's really unprecedented."


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The Federal Court filing also said that when a warden approved an interview request, 90 minutes later, the office of then public safety minister Vic Toews intervened and blocked it, according to internal emails obtained by the Canadian Press.

The Star also claims that one federal penitentiary warden refused an interview request, stating it was for Khadr’s own good and would not increase his “notoriety.”

John Phillips, a lawyer representing the media in this case, told The Globe and Mail that comments by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, calling Khadr an admitted murderer, show the public importance of letting Canadians hear directly from him.

“The Prime Minister and every academic, and every person on the right and the left, have been discussing him. The one voice that’s never been heard is Omar’s voice,” he said in the Globe article. “At some point this guy is going to be released. The public has heard nothing but vilification of him. Maybe we all want to know and need to know who he really is.”

As an editorial in the Toronto Star argued, “What does Omar Khadr have to say that the government of Canada is afraid of? … Why else deny Canadians access to the views of a man who may soon be released and has received numerous other visits from the public?”


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Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.