Khadrs lawyer to appeal Ottawa diplomatic note to US gov. on Canadian evidence

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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OTTAWA - The Conservative government's decision not to seek Omar Khadr's repatriation from a U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is an "egregious" violation of the 23-year-old man's rights, his lawyer said Tuesday.
Khadr's legal team will file an emergency motion in Federal Court Wednesday asking that it quash a decision by the federal government to ask the U.S. government to refrain from using any evidence gathered by Canadian officials in any future prosecution of Khadr.
"It's an egregious violation to just completely not even allow us to write a letter or to even have notice of the fact that they are thinking of making a decision," Edmonton lawyer Nathan Whitling told The Canadian Press.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced late Tuesday that the government made its request in a diplomatic note sent to Washington earlier in the day.
It was Ottawa's first response to the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling that found the Canadian government's participation in Khadr's U.S. detention violated his constitutional rights. The ruling did not order the Conservative government to repatriate Khadr.
Nicholson said the government wants assurances that any evidence or statements gathered by Canadian agents and officials during interviews with Khadr in 2003 and 2004 not be used against him by U.S. authorities.
"In its ruling, the Supreme Court recognized the constitutional responsibility of the executive to make decisions on matters of foreign affairs, given the complex and ever-changing circumstances of diplomacy, and the need to take into account Canada's broader interests," Nicholson said in a statement.
Nicholson was not immediately available for comment.
Whitling said the Justice Department simply ignored a letter that Khadr's legal team sent last week requesting the right to make submissions about how to interpret the Supreme Court ruling. Ultimately, the lawyers would have argued that Khadr should be brought back to Canada, but they never got the opportunity to make that submission.
Ottawa's only response was to send Khadr's lawyers a copy of the diplomatic note late Tuesday afternoon before releasing Nicholson's statement a few hours later, said Whitling.
"Obviously this government has a biased predisposition towards doing nothing to assist Mr. Khadr," said Whitling.
"But we were quite shocked that they refused to listen to us before making the decision. We had specifically told them we wanted to be heard before this decision was made. We requested an opportunity to tell them our side of the story before they made their decision. They just completely ignored us and then they communicated this decision to us today."
Khadr is being held by the Americans for allegedly throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan more than seven years ago, when he was 15.
He is the last Western prisoner at the controversial U.S. military prison that has been widely condemned by courts in various jurisdictions and human rights groups.
Nicholson reiterated that Khadr faces "very serious charges, including murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, material support for terrorism, and spying."
Nicholson said the Canadian government continues to provide consular services to Khadr.
NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar said the decision is essentially a cover-up by the government that does nothing to remedy the constitutional violation that the Supreme Court identified.
"Instead of doing the right thing and requesting repatriation of Omar Khadr this government is basically trying to whitewash their involvement in the case and scrub any evidence," Dewar said in an interview.
"The remedy is not whitewashing our involvement but the repatriation of (Khadr)."
The evidence Nicholson wants kept of the trial includes seven hours of videotaped interrogations of the then-teenaged Khadr by a CSIS agent.
In the video, Khadr doesn't seem to realize who is asking the questions. The images, captured by a camera hidden in an air duct at the Guantanamo prison in 2003, revealed a young man whose behaviour runs from truculence to pathos. He pleads with the interrogator to shield him from those he believes to be his real tormentors.
"Promise me you'll protect me from the Americans," he asks.
When the interrogator pushes for information and leaves after getting little, the camera captures Khadr sobbing, moaning and dropping his head into his palms.
Polls have consistently demonstrated that there is little sympathy for Khadr among Canadians and even less for his family.
The Khadr family has gained global notoriety for apparent long-standing ties to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
Omar's late father, Ahmed Said Khadr, was a purported extremist and financier for bin Laden's terror network. A brother, Abdul Karim, was paralysed by wounds suffered in the firefight that killed his father.
Conservative officials privately concede that they expect Khadr will one day return to Canada as a free man, but they want him to undergo some kind of judicial process before that happens.

Organizations: Supreme Court of Canada, Federal Court, Canadian Press Justice Department NDP CSIS Al-Qaida

Geographic location: U.S., Ottawa, Guantanamo Bay Canada Cuba Edmonton Washington Afghanistan

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