VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Terrorism suspect Omar Khadr can see a document in which a Canadian official was told of his mistreatment by U.S. authorities at Guantanamo Bay, a Canadian judge ruled on Wednesday.
The Federal Court judge rejected a bid by the Canadian government to deny Khadr’s attorneys access to the document on the grounds the information was given to Canada in confidence and its disclosure would hurt U.S.-Canada relations.
In the document, a U.S. military official is said to describe steps taken by authorities at Guantanamo to prepare Khadr for an interview by an investigator from Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs in 2004.
Judge Richard Mosley said that, in his view, the treatment described by the U.S. official was a breach of international human rights law and the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners that was signed by both countries.
“While it may cause some harm to Canada-US relations, that effect will be minimized by the fact that the use of such interrogation techniques by the US military at Guantanamo is now a matter of public record and debate,” Mosley said.
Khadr, 21, a Canadian citizen and the only Western prisoner still held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He faces charges of throwing a grenade that killed one U.S. soldier and wounded another during a fight at an al Qaeda compound near Afghanistan in 2002. The then-teenaged Khadr was shot and wounded in the fight.
Canada’s Supreme Court ruled in May that Khadr could have access to at least some of the documents that Ottawa gave to the United States related to interviews by Canadian officials.
The Supreme Court, which also ruled the documents meant Ottawa took part in an illegal process, left it up to Mosley to sort out which files Khadr would actually receive and how much they had to be edited for security reasons.
Mosley also ruled on Wednesday that Khadr could turn over at least some of the documents to the media, although the ruling did not disclose which ones.
Among the other documents that Khadr can receive are recordings of the interviews in which his attorneys say he cried, described being tortured, showed the Canadian officials physical evidence of his abuse and pleaded for their help.
Mosley declined to describe what was on the recordings, but said the defense had right to any evidence that was relevant to their allegations.
Mosley cautioned that much of the information contained in the documents is unrelated to Khadr and would not help him in his defense against the criminal charges.
Reporting Allan Dowd, editing by Rob Wilson