Canada removes U.S., Israel from torture watchlist

Sat Jan 19, 2008 2:04pm EST
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's foreign ministry, responding to pressure from close allies, said on Saturday it would remove the United States and Israel from a watch list of countries where prisoners risk being tortured.

Both nations expressed unhappiness after it emerged they had been listed in a document that formed part of a training course manual on torture awareness given to Canadian diplomats.

Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier said he regretted the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the manual, which also classified some U.S. interrogation techniques as torture.

"It contains a list that wrongly includes some of our closest allies. I have directed that the manual be reviewed and rewritten," Bernier said in a statement.

"The manual is neither a policy document nor a statement of policy. As such, it does not convey the government's views or positions."

The document -- made available to Reuters and other media outlets -- embarrassed the minority Conservative government, which is a staunch ally of both the United States and Israel.

U.S. ambassador David Wilkins said the listing was absurd, while the Israeli envoy said he wanted his country removed.

Asked why the two countries had been put on the list, a spokesman for Bernier said: "The training manual purposely raised public issues to stimulate discussion and debate in the classroom."   Continued...

<p>A rusting fence with barbed wire is shown at the unused Camp X-Ray at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba September 5, 2007. REUTERS/Joe Skipper</p>