Canada brushes off pressure over Guantanamo inmate

Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:28pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada said on Wednesday it would not press for the return of a young Canadian inmate held at Guantanamo Bay despite the release of video footage that showed him weeping and calling for his mother.

The film prompted mounting calls from politicians and commentators for Ottawa to intercede with Washington on behalf of 21-year-old Omar Khadr, who is charged with killing a U.S. medic in Afghanistan in July 2002 at the age of 15.

Secret video of his interrogation by Canadian agents over four days in February 2003 shows him moaning in despair and crying out for his mother.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Khadr faces serious charges and should go on trial.

"Our position has not changed and it's not going to. We're not going to blow in the wind on something as fundamental as this," Harper's chief spokesman Kory Teneycke told Reuters.

Extracts from the secret video show Khadr -- then 16 -- being grilled by officials from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service spy agency.

The film was released by Khadr's lawyers, who are pushing Ottawa to intervene with Washington on his behalf.

"Making a change at the 11th hour because his legal team is pursuing an aggressive media strategy is not in the interests of due process ... We're about doing what the right thing is," said Teneycke.   Continued...

<p>Canadian citizen Omar Khadr, 16 years old at the time, appears in multiple video screen grab during a February 2003 interview in the Guantanamo Bay prison. Khadr, the only western prisoner still held in the U.S. prison, pleaded with Canadian interrogators to be allowed home in videos released on Tuesday by his lawyers. REUTERS/Handout via Reuters TV</p>