Freeze Omar Khadr’s settlement funds, widow’s lawyer argues

A lawyer for the widow of the U.S. soldier allegedly killed by Omar Khadr is arguing that the former child soldier’s controversial $10.5-million settlement from Ottawa should be frozen, so it will not disappear or be given to his “extremist” family.

Written arguments were filed on Monday with the Ontario Superior Court by lawyer David Winer on behalf of his client Tabitha Speer, the widow of Sergeant Christopher Speer. Sgt. Speer was killed by a grenade in the 2002 firefight in Afghanistan that ended with Mr. Khadr’s capture, at the age of 15. Also among the plaintiffs is Layne Morris, a U.S. soldier partly blinded in that battle.

In 2015, Ms. Speer and Mr. Morris won a $134-million (U.S.) default judgment in a U.S. federal court in Utah against Mr. Khadr for his alleged actions in Afghanistan. They want their judgment recognized in Ontario, so they can collect at least some of that cash from Mr. Khadr. The former Guantanamo Bay prisoner confessed to throwing the grenade as part of a plea deal, but has since recanted.

In their court filing Monday, Ms. Speer and Mr. Morris are asking for an interim court order freezing the settlement funds “whether in the hands of [Mr. Khadr] or anyone else,” and an order requiring a full accounting of the money, including “the current location of all such funds, or property acquired thereby.” They also call for the appointment of a receiver to hold the cash, pending the outcome of their case. Their lawyers will make that argument in court on Thursday.

In justifying their calls for these orders, they warn of a “real risk” that Mr. Khadr “will dissipate the funds” or handle them in a way that it makes it impossible for them to get their hands on them.

They also cite media reports that say the July 5 payment was “specifically expedited in light of this motion to ensure that the funds reached Khadr before they could be executed upon.”

And they say that some in Mr. Khadr’s family “have previously expressed support for al-Qaeda or violent extremism,” and that Mr. Khadr, in an interview last week with the CBC, “did not deny his past conduct” and said he remains “close with his family.”

“One may reasonably infer that Khadr may provide some of the Settlement Funds to his family members, who appear to be unrepentant supporters of violent extremists,” the court filing reads.

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