Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave Omar Khadr a big payout, but the terrorist’s real victims may never see any of that money.
Canada agreed to pay the former Guantanamo prisoner a reported $8 million in a lawsuit alleging civil rights violations. The settlement included an apology.
The Canadian-born Khadr was 15 in 2002 when he tossed a grenade in a firefight that killed U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, a special forces medic.
Tabitha Speer, the soldier's widow, and Layne Morris, who was blinded in the firefight, won a $134 million wrongful-death default judgment against Khadr two years ago in Utah.
Lawyers for the widow and Morris requested an order freezing Khadr’s assets, but last week a Canadian judge threw out the request, calling it “extraordinary."
Conservative Member of the Canadian Parliament and official opposition critic for foreign affairs Peter Kent wrote in The Wall Street Journal Monday that the timing of the payout undermines Tabitha Speer’s legal options to collect on the judgment.
He added that Trudeau’s actions “are an affront to the memory of Christopher Speer, to Tabitha Speer and her children, to Layne Morris, to our U.S. allies and to all men and women in uniform.”
He also called the settlement “a cynical subversion” of Canadian principles.
“Mr. Trudeau made Omar Khadr a millionaire, and he didn’t have to,” Kent wrote.
Trudeau said last week that it could have cost more than $30 million if the case was not settled.
"The measure of a society, of a just society, is not whether we stand up for people’s rights when it’s easy or popular to do so, it’s whether we recognize rights when it’s difficult, when it’s unpopular," he said. "We are a society that stands up for peoples’ rights, and when governments fail to respect peoples’ rights we all end up paying. I think that is the lesson that hopefully future governments will draw from this settlement."
Khadr sued the Canadian government for $16 million in 2015 after he was released on bail. He claimed he was tortured at Gitmo.
Morris told Fox News last week that “it was just crazy that you would give someone like that $8 million because his feelings got hurt. I know he spent time in Guantanamo. That was due to his own actions.”
Tabitha Speer hasn’t commented on the settlement to Khadr.
She last updated her Facebook page in June with a photo of her husband and their two young children, Taryn and Tanner. The children are now teens.
“Everyone wants to say he’s the child, he’s the victim. I don’t see that. My children are the victims.”
In 2010, she confronted Khadr from the witness stand at the Guantanamo war crimes tribunal after Khadr struck a plea deal.
“My husband was a good man,” Speer told Khadr, according to a story at the time in the Albuquerque Journal. “You will forever be a murderer in my eyes.”
The paper reported that the widow urged the jury to reject arguments that Khadr, the son of an Al Qaeda leader, deserved a break.
“Everyone wants to say he’s the child, he’s the victim,” the widow said. “I don’t see that. My children are the victims.”
In a 2005 court affidavit in a lawsuit against Khadr, Speer recalled the day her husband was deployed.
“I reﬂected on what a great marriage and family we had,” she said. “I thought we would be together forever to watch our children grow. I had no idea that within days, my world would be torn apart."
She also recalled in the affidavit her feelings when she returned home to North Carolina from Germany.
"I could not fathom how empty our house was,” she said. “I sat in the middle of the living room floor, explaining to Taryn what happened to Daddy. This was the hardest thing I have ever done. I needed to be strong for Taryn and Tanner, but needed to grieve myself. Telling a little girl her daddy would not be coming home was excruciating.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.