Friday, June 27, 2008

Lawyer wants world to see Gitmo interrogation

Lawyer wants world to see Gitmo interrogation

Posted on Thu, Jun. 26, 2008


A lawyer for a Canadian detainee at Guantánamo Bay said Thursday that he expects to release a video of his then-teenaged client being interrogated by Canadian officials, potentially offering the first public footage of an interrogation at the U.S. prison.

Nathan Whitling's announcement came a day after Canada 's Federal Court ordered the government to hand over the 2003 interrogation video of terrorism suspect Omar Khadr to his defense team.

Khadr, the son of an alleged al Qaeda financier, is scheduled to face trial Oct. 8 for allegedly lobbing a grenade that killed a U.S. Special Forces soldier following a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan when he was 15.

He has maintained that any statements he made to U.S. officials were obtained under torture and are therefore inadmissible.

Whitling said though the video itself does not show Khadr being tortured, it does back up his client's allegations.

''The tape shows him crying as he describes being tortured. It shows him showing Canadian officials physical evidence of his abuse and pleading for their help. It's concrete evidence demonstrating the lack of credibility for the case against him,'' said Whitling.

The Federal Court judge, Richard Mosley, also said efforts to prime Khadr for interrogation sessions with visiting Canadian agents, described in a 2004 document, broke human rights laws, including the Geneva Conventions. He did not disclose the technique.

The prosecution has 10 days to appeal the court's order, said Whitling. If the appeal is rejected, he will make the video public, he said.

Canada's Department of Justice did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Jamil Dakwar, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, said that even though the video shows interrogation by Canadian authorities it may still shed light on U.S. treatment of Khadr.

''The U.S. government has been trying to withhold this kind of information to save itself the embarrassment of revealing the evidence of juvenile mistreatment,'' Dakwar said. ``Unfortunately, it took a Canadian court to reveal the truth about the shameful detention policies of the Bush Administration in the case of Omar Khadr.''

Whitling said that the evidence is also a blow to the Canadian government since it reveals that the Canadian interrogator interviewed Khadr despite learning of the efforts to prime the prisoner.

''It shows the treatment of a Canadian citizen in Guantánamo and the participation of the Canadian government in a system that the Supreme Court of Canada had previously known to be in violation of human rights under international and Canadian law,'' said Whitling.

The U.S. military says it plans to prosecute about 80 detainees at Guantánamo, where it holds roughly 270 men on suspicion of terrorism or links to al Qaeda or the Taliban. So far none of the cases have gone to trial.

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