Omar Khadr's interrogation was "friendly": FBI

Thu Apr 29, 2010 11:42am EDT
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By Jane Sutton

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - A Canadian captive admitted throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan during an interview eight years ago that an FBI agent described on Wednesday as "comfortable" and "friendly," once the hood and handcuffs were removed.

The FBI agent's testimony kicked off the first substantive hearing in the U.S. war crimes tribunal at Guantanamo since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009.

A military judge will decide whether defendant Omar Khadr's statements to interrogators were the illegal products of torture, as his lawyers claim, or voluntary confessions that can be used as evidence in his July murder trial.

"We never put our hands on Mr. Khadr," testified FBI agent Robert Fuller, who questioned Khadr seven times at the Bagram U.S. air base in Afghanistan in October 2002.

Now 23, Khadr was 15 years old and badly wounded when captured during a firefight at a suspected al Qaeda compound near the Afghan city of Khost in July 2002. He has spent a third of his life locked up at Guantanamo and is accused of killing a U.S. special forces soldier with a grenade and making explosives for use against U.S. troops.

Fuller said guards escorted Khadr to an upstairs room in an old Russian aircraft hangar at Bagram, sat him on a plastic chair and removed his handcuffs and the cloth hood that covered his head before the FBI interviews began.

He said the sessions were friendly, comfortable and nonconfrontational, and included snacks and bathroom breaks.

"He appeared happy, as happy as he could be. He seemed pleased to talk to us," Fuller said.   Continued...

<p>In this photo of a sketch by courtroom artist Janet Hamlin, Canadian defendant Omar Khadr attends a hearing in the courthouse for the U.S. military war crimes commission at the Camp Justice compound on Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba, April 28, 2010. REUTERS/Janet Hamlin/Pool</p>