U.S. falsely implicates Guantanamo prisoner: lawyer

Thu Mar 13, 2008 5:53pm EDT
 
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By Jane Sutton

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - A U.S. military report on a battle in which a U.S. soldier died in Afghanistan was altered after the fact to falsely blame a young Canadian prisoner, his lawyer said on Thursday.

The report initially said the assailant who threw the fatal grenade had himself been killed in the battle near the Afghan city of Khost on July 27, 2002, the lawyer, Navy Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler, told reporters at the Guantanamo naval base.

The officer who wrote that report on July 28, 2002, revised it about two months later to say the grenade thrower survived, implicating Canadian prisoner Omar Khadr, said Kuebler. He asked a judge in the Guantanamo war court to allow him to interview that officer about the contradictory accounts.

Khadr is charged with murdering U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, a special forces medic who entered a suspected al Qaeda compound after an aerial bombing and was hit by a grenade.

No one saw who threw the grenade but the U.S. military says it must have been Khadr because he was the only person still alive inside the compound when U.S. forces entered.

"We now know that story was false," Kuebler said. "It's consistent with the proposition that the government manufactured evidence to make it look like Omar was guilty."

Another U.S. soldier said in documents released in February that a second al Qaeda suspect was lying on the floor of the compound with an AK-47 assault rifle at his side, injured and moaning but still alive after the grenade was thrown. The soldier said he shot and killed that suspect, then shot Khadr twice in the back as Khadr sat on the floor.

The altered report was written by a U.S. military officer known as "Col. W," who was in charge at the scene but did not see what happened inside the compound, Kuebler said.   Continued...

 
<p>Omar Khadr is seen in this undated family portrait. A U.S. military report on a battle in which a U.S. soldier died in Afghanistan was altered after the fact to falsely blame a young Canadian prisoner, his lawyer said on Thursday. REUTERS/Handout/Files</p>