On May 7, 2015, just hours after his release on bail, Omar (28) gave a driveway news conference to the Canadian and the world press. Omar Khadr expresses his first taste of freedom to the public after being wrongfully imprisoned for 13 years, since the age of 15.
Omar: I would like to thank the courts for trusting me and releasing me. I would like to thank Dennis and Nate my lawyers, and their families, for – all the work – they’ve been working for such a long time. And I would like to thank the Canadian public for trusting me and giving me a chance. It might be some times, but I will prove to them that I am more than what they thought of me. I’ll prove to them that I’m a good person. Thank you very much.
Q: Omar, what do you want Canadians to know about you? What’s most important?
Omar: Just to give me a chance, who I am as a person, not as a name. They can make their own judgment after that.
Q: Who are you as a person?
Omar: I’m still learning about myself, I’m still growing. I believe in learning, I didn’t have a lot of experience in life, and I’m excited to start my life.
Q: What do you want to do most?
Omar: That’s a hard question – everything, and nothing in particular. Everything.
Q: Omar, what do you want the American people to know about you?
Omar: I can say that I’m sorry for the pain I might have caused the families of the victims, and – there’s nothing I can do about the past but I hope that, the future can – I can do something about the future.
Q: How do you feel right now, Omar?
Omar: I’m still in a bit of a shock. I’m happy but, still I think I’m going to crash sometime later. But I’m still very controlled.
Q: Omar, what about the modern world shocked you the most since you’ve been out?
Omar: Nothing so far. What really surprises, it’s like, freedom is way better than I thought. And the Canadian public so far has been way better than I anticipated.
Q: Can you tell us what you did this afternoon?
Omar: We went to lunch, and then we had to go back to the court to sign some papers. And, like I was surprised with some of the sheriffs, they went out of their way to be kind and buy me some drinks because we were waiting there for a long time. Everybody’s been very nice and kind.
Q: What do you want to do with your life?
Q: Do you speak French?
Omar: No, unfortunately not.
Q: What do you think of this lovely west-end suburb?
Omar: It’s pretty nice, I have to say. It’s very nice.
Q: Do you have anything to say to Mr. Harper?
Omar: Well I’m going to have to disappoint him, I’m better than the person he thinks I am.
New neighbour: There are some neighbours here . . . here to welcome you.
Omar: Thank you very much for having me here and I look forward to knowing you guys better.]
Q: Physically how are you?
Omar: Pretty well, I have some problems but I’m doing pretty well.
Q: Anything that would stop you from doing the kind of work you would want to do?
Omar: No. No, not really.
Q: What do you make of how polarizing of a figure you’ve become in Canada?
Omar: I can’t do anything about that, all I can do is work on myself. And that’s all I can do.
Q: Do you realize . . . [indistinguishable]
Omar: I do realize, but I’m not feeling it completely yet.
Q: Can you categorically say that you denounce violence [indistinguishable] Omar?
Omar: Yes, yes I can.
Q: Not one thing?
Omar: It’s not something I believe in right now. I want to start, fresh start. There’s too many good things in life that I want to experience.
Q: Do you have any career aspirations? Looking down the road, is there anything that you really…?
Omar: Something in the healthcare. I believe that you have to be able to empathize with people in pain and I know how that – I’ve experienced pain so I think I can empathize with people who are going through that. And I think – I hope I can do something in the healthcare.
Q: Omar, so many Canadians know about your father. What do you think about your father now after what happened to you?
Omar: There’s a lot of questions that I’d like to ask my father. I can’t change the past, all I can do is just work on the present and future.
Q: What do you want to ask him? What would you ask him?
Omar: Uh, everything? A lot of decisions that he made, reason he took us back there, just a whole bunch of questions about his reasoning behind – and his life decisions.
Q: And these are not life decisions you want to make going forward?
Q: What would you say to someone who is contemplating extremism and looking to you as a young person?
Omar: What I would tell everybody is to educate yourself. Don’t let emotions control you. Education is very important, I’ve noticed that a lot of people are manipulated by not being educated, so education is very important.
Q: Are you going to get on social media? Is that something you’d be into?
Omar: On a personal level only, maybe.
Q: What can you say about Dennis Edney your pro bono lawyer for a long time?
Q: What are your plans tonight, can you tell us your plans tonight?
Patricia Edney: Dinner. We’re having lamb. We’re having dinner and some friends dropped off some cupcakes for you too.
Dennis Edney: And someone dropped flowers off too.
Patricia Edney: And flowers. I’m delighted, absolutely delighted. I’ve been waiting for this a long time.
Q: One last word for the Canadian public?
Omar: I’d just like to thank them. And I would ask them, you know, to give me a chance. And they will be surprised.
Thank you very much. Sorry for keeping you guys waiting for so long. Have a good night.