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Judge eases Omar Khadr’s bail conditions, no monitoring bracelet

Omar Khadr watches as his lawyer Dennis Edney speaks to media after his bail conditions hearing in Edmonton on Friday, September 11, 2015. Khadr is back in an Edmonton court Friday to find out if more of his bail conditions will be eased.

JASON FRANSON/THE CANADIAN PRESS

An Alberta judge has further eased bail conditions for former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr.

Justice June Ross ruled Friday that Khadr can visit his grandparents in Toronto for up to two weeks, as long as he travels there with one of his Edmonton lawyers, Dennis Edney, by the end of the year.

The judge said previous conditions that required Khadr to only talk with relatives in English and under supervision will now only apply to two specific family members — his mother and one sister, who have expressed extremist views in the past. Court heard the pair are currently out of the country.

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Ross said it's important that some restrictions remain to ensure Khadr doesn't have terrorist associations. But she added that he has complied with all conditions since he was released four months ago and a gradual release into the community "is the best way to ensure he doesn't pose a danger to the public."

"There is no reason why he should not have a visit with his family," said Ross.

She ruled that Khadr can also get rid of his electronic monitoring bracelet, which he argued was embarrassing and interfered with activities such as biking, swimming and playing soccer.

Ross further agreed to remove a condition that required remote monitoring software on Khadr's laptop, because it was interfering with the computer's operation and justice officials couldn't provide him with technical support.

The judge said Khadr's computer can be monitored in other ways and told him to provide access and all passwords to his bail supervisor.

"I am pleased," Khadr told reporters outside the courtroom. He declined to answer other questions. His lawyers have explained that he wants to try to live a normal life out of the public eye.

The Toronto-born Khadr, now 29, was 15 when he was captured following a firefight in Afghanistan in 2002, and became the youngest prisoner and lone Westerner at the time to be held in Guantanamo.

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He pleaded guilty in 2010 to several war crimes, including the murder of an American soldier, and a United States military commission sentenced him to another eight years behind bars. He was transferred to Canada in 2012.

Khadr later said he only pleaded guilty to get out of the notorious prison.

Ross granted him bail in May, pending his appeal of the convictions in the U.S..

Last week, the judge amended Khadr's curfew so he can attend early-morning prayers and night classes for his studies to become an emergency medical technician.

She said he must continue living with Edney but can stay with friends in Alberta if permitted by his bail supervisor. Otherwise, he cannot leave Alberta except to stay at his lawyer's vacation home in B.C.

The federal government agreed to the adjusting the curfew but not changing the other bail conditions. It has frequently branded Khadr an unrepentant terrorist who should serve his full sentence.

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The government is appealing his release on bail, but has not yet argued the matter before Alberta's Court of Appeal.

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