The sister of the former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr is suing the Canadian government for refusing her entry to the country, CTV News reports.
Zaynab Khadr is seeking to force the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to remove her name from the no-fly list, claiming before a federal court that there is no justification for her inclusion on the list.
According to her appeal, the Department of Public Safety refused to grant her request, leaving Khadr, a Canadian citizen, stranded in Europe with her five children with “no reasonable basis to suspect she would engage or attempt to engage in an act that would threaten public transportation or to suspect she was travelling by air to commit certain terrorism offences.”
Khadr's appeal alleges that her constitutional rights were violated as the government was discriminating against her based on her speech and political views. Despite her previous expression of support for 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, her suit claims that she “has never engaged in or threatened acts of violence, and her words have never had the effect of compelling or encouraging acts of violence,” according to the appeal.
She also alleges that her liberty was violated as she was not allowed to return to Canada to unite with her family during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. While much of her extended family, including her brother Omar, reside in Canada, Zaynab Khadr appears to have been residing in the country of Georgia with her immediate family for years.
Without commenting directly on the case, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair told reporters “the passenger protection lists that we develop and manage with Transport Canada is intended to maintain the safety and security of all Canadians. If someone objects to being on that list, there is a process for them to bring those concerns forward and if they don’t like that decision there's another process that allows for that to be reviewed at the federal court level.”
Zaynab's brother Omar dominated headlines in Canada for years. Having been brought to Afghanistan by his father, who was affiliated with the Taliban, Khadr allegedly killed an American medic, Christopher Speer, with a grenade when he was just 15 years old. Khadr became the youngest detainee to be held at Guantanamo Bay. He plead guilty to his charge, but retracted his guilty plea once he realized that he would not be transferred to Canada.
Khadr was transferred back to Canada in 2012, where he served the remainder of his sentence. He sued the Canadian government for violating his rights, which settled with him in 2017 with a $10.5 million payout and an official apology from the government. According to Khadr, his rights were violated when he was interrogated by Canadian officials in Guantanamo. According to the Canadian Supreme Court, the government violated “the most basic standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.”
Zaynab Khadr is being represented by Toronto immigration lawyer Barbara Jackman. Jackman refused to comment on the case, citing confidentiality, and further stated that Khadr would be difficult to contact.