Top court told of Guantanamo rights violations

Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:00pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian investigators violated the rights of terrorism suspect Omar Khadr when they interrogated him at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, his lawyers told Canada's top court on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court of Canada is examining whether the Canadian government must provide Khadr with any information relevant to him. But Wednesday's hearing broadened to consider whether the whole U.S. process at its Guantanamo Bay prison on Cuba violated human rights.

The United States accuses Khadr of throwing a grenade that killed one U.S. soldier and wounded another during a firefight at an al Qaeda compound in Afghanistan in 2002. Khadr, 15 at the time and now 21, was shot twice in the back. He has since been held at the Guantanamo naval base.

Officials with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service interviewed Khadr at the base, where he and more than 300 non-Americans accused of links to al Qaeda or associated Islamist groups are being held.

"Canada should have refrained from going down there and participating in this violation of its young citizen's rights under international law," Khadr's lawyer, Nathan Whitling, told the court.

"They should not have participated in this process. They should not have taken advantage of his vulnerability."

Arguing that Khadr could receive an unfair trial because of information Canada shared with the United States after interviewing him, Whitling said Ottawa must hand over all information it has on him to help his defense.

Pointing to the serious charges against Khadr, the Canadian government said national security interests required the protection of its information.   Continued...

<p>Maha Elsamnah (C), mother of Omar Khadr, who is being detained by U.S. forces at Guantanamo Bay, leaves the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa March 26, 2008. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments from lawyers for Omar Khadr, who is charged with murdering a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan in a firefight when he was 15. Omar, now 21, was taken prisoner in 2002. He said in an affidavit that U.S. interrogators repeatedly threatened to rape him and Canadian government officials told him they were powerless to do anything. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>