Khadr aided U.S. so he could go home, agent says

Fri Apr 30, 2010 7:24pm EDT
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By Jane Sutton

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - Guantanamo prisoner Omar Khadr chatted happily with a pretty, young U.S. interrogator because he thought cooperation would win him a speedy trip home to Canada, the interrogator told the U.S. war crimes tribunal on Friday.

Defense lawyers are trying to convince a military judge that Khadr was illegally tortured into confessing and that his statements to interrogators should be banned from court.

Toronto-born Khadr, 23, is scheduled for trial in July on charges of murdering a U.S. soldier with a grenade during a firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002, conspiring with al Qaeda and targeting U.S. forces with roadside bombs.

He is the youngest of the 183 captives held at the detention camp for terrorism suspects at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base in Cuba. Khadr was 15 when captured and would become the first person prosecuted in a U.S. war crimes tribunal for acts allegedly committed as a minor.

A former navy interrogator who questioned him a dozen times at Guantanamo in late 2002 said there was no coercion. Khadr answered her questions because "He understood that if he was cooperative it would expedite his repatriation back to Canada," the woman identified in court as Agent No. 11 testified.

Khadr was being considered for release back to Canada, her interrogation team wrote in a 2002 assessment. Instead the United States charged him with war crimes that could keep him locked up at Guantanamo or a U.S. prison for life.

No. 11 said Khadr was an intelligent and friendly teen who always came to the interrogation booth with a smile on his face and chatted freely about the battle where he was captured and about the father he described as an al Qaeda money man.

She quoted Khadr as telling her, "I would rather be in the booth with you than bored in my cell."   Continued...

<p>Canadian defendant Omar Khadr (C) sits with his defense team as FBI Special Agent Robert Fuller (L) testifies during a War Crimes Commission hearing on the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, in this photo of a sketch by courtroom artist Janet Hamlin, reviewed by U.S. Department of Defense officials, taken and released on April 29, 2010. REUTERS/Janet Hamlin/Pool</p>