Lawyers for Guantanamo inmate sue Canadian PM

Fri Aug 8, 2008 5:50pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Lawyers for a young Canadian man imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay filed a lawsuit on Friday against Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a bid to force him to intercede with Washington on the inmate's behalf.

Harper has so far refused to ask the United States to repatriate 21-year-old Omar Khadr, who is due to go on trial in October on charges of killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan in July 2002, when he was 15.

Critics say Khadr was a child soldier and should be helped rather than punished. Harper, whose right-wing Conservatives won power in January 2006 on a law-and-order platform, says the man is facing serious charges.

The suit wants Canada's Federal Court to order Harper to intervene before the U.S. military trial starts.

"We're doing it to compel Stephen Harper to finally do the right thing and stand up for the rights of a Canadian citizen," said Lieutenant William Kuebler, Khadr's U.S. military lawyer.

"If a Canadian court directs him to do it I don't think he can say 'Get lost'," Kuebler told Reuters by telephone.

Last month, video footage of Canadian agents interrogating Khadr at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2003 showed the then teenager weeping and calling for his mother.

Kory Teneycke, Harper's chief spokesman, dismissed the lawsuit as predictable.   Continued...