Saturday, March 17, 2007

Canada not speaking up for Guantanamo detainee.

Harper's silence on this matter is in contrast to his complaints about China who also hold a Canadian citizen they claim is a terrorist. The Liberal government has done nothing either. The Khadr family were certainly involved with Al Qaeda although one of the sons who was released also acted as a spy for the US. Omar has been in Guantanamo since he was 15!

Canada abandoning Guantanamo detainee, lawyers say
Last Updated: Friday, March 16, 2007 | 11:47 AM ET
CBC News
Defence lawyers for U.S. military detainee Omar Khadr say Canada isn't doing enough to protect the rights of one of its citizens.

Lt.-Cmdr. William Kuebler and Muneer Ahmad, the U.S. military and civilian lawyers for Khadr, are visiting Canada to raise awareness about their client.

Omar Khadr, seen in 2002, faces charges of murder. The U.S. military alleges that he killed an American medic in a grenade attack, which wounded several other American soldiers.
(Canadian Press) The 20-year-old is charged with the death of a U.S. soldier during a grenade attack in Afghanistan five years ago. He is being held at the U.S. detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

They say the fact that Khadr has been held at Guantanamo Bay for five years, while detainees from countries such as the U.K. and Australia have been released, shows Canada isn't doing enough for one of its own.

"One's treatment at Guantanamo varies considerably depending on your citizenship," Ahmad said.

"If you're British at Guantanamo, you get out. That's the historical record there. If you're an American citizen there, you also get out. If you're Canadian, you languish."

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Britain refused to let its citizens be tried by the military commissions, while Australia reached a deal to allow an Australian detainee to serve his sentence at home if he's found guilty of attempted murder.

Don't punish him because of his family: lawyer
Ahmed acknowledged that Khadr's family is unpopular in Canada, but said he deserves the same treatment as every other Canadian.

"It's really a challenge for the liberal state of Canada to treat Omar as the individual that he is … and that he is deserving of the treatment that any Canadian citizen would receive," he said.

Kuebler, Khadr's military-appointed lawyer, said Ottawa must step in.

"The engagement by foreign governments whose citizens are detained at Guantanamo Bay is the most effective means of ensuring there is a fair process and … fair treatment," Kuebler said.

The lawyers said they still represented Khadr, even though his mother said last week that her son told her during a phone call he only wanted to be represented by his Canadian lawyer, Dennis Edney.

"We take Omar's statements as an expression of his frustration with this process," Kuebler said.

Ahmad said the U.S. defence team has had regular communication with the Canadian government, which has said it accepts American assurances Khadr is being treated humanely. Canada hasn't moved to seek Khadr's extradition and has been silent amid world condemnation of the prison camp.

Controversial tribunals
Khadr's defence team is expected to challenge the legitimacy of the military commission process and will argue that Khadr was legally and emotionally a child at the time he is alleged to have killed Sgt. Christopher Speer, who had a wife and two children.

Khadr's trial could begin within months.

In June 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that military commissions used to try inmates at Guantanamo Bay were illegal under American and international law.

Four months later, U.S. President George W. Bush signed into law the Military Commissions Act, which allows the U.S. government to indefinitely hold foreigners who have been designated "enemy combatants" and use aggressive interrogation tactics.

Khadr and his family have been in the media spotlight since members of the family were captured during the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan in 2001 and the father, Ahmed Said Khadr, was shot and killed by Pakistani troops in 2003.

Khadr's older brother, Abdurahman, told CBC his family had ties to al-Qaeda and that he and his brothers attended terrorist training camps.

With files from the Canadian Press

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