Omar Khadr’s two Canadian lawyers – John Norris and Brydie Bethell – have stepped down as his counsel. In a notice of motion to Federal Court, where Khadr is suing the federal government for breaching his constitutional rights, Norris said they are withdrawing as his counsel “for reasons they are not at liberty to disclose to the court.”
Norris and Bethell took over the file in August 2011, when Khadr abruptly fired two lawyers from Edmonton, Dennis Edney and Nate Whitling.
Khadr is eligible for day parole in March 2013, but his recent classification as maximum security makes any parole highly unlikely for at least another two years.
In an interview, Norris denied Khadr had axed the duo, saying they “withdrew.”
“We regret very much having to take this step,” Norris said. “We wish him well.”
Edney has long been fiercely critical of the legal representation Khadr has had, both in striking the Gitmo plea deal and since the conviction.
Hopes for overturning Khadr’s conviction based on the success of a recent appeal to the U.S Supreme Court (Oct 16, 2012: Hamdan v. USA, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, No. 11-1257.) seem remote. The crux of Hamdan’s Appeal was based on an illegitimate charge – providing material assistance to the enemy – not existing in law when committed (ie it was retroactively brought into law and then applied). In Khadr’s case there is no doubt he was engaged in belligerent activity in the July 2002 fire-fight.