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Omar Khadr Transferred from Gitmo to Canada

Finally, Omar Khadr, the "child of Jihad" has left Guantanamo and returned home to Canada.

He was transferred to the Millhaven Institution, a maximum security prison in Bath, Ont. His lawyer says he is happy to be home.

Omar was 15 when he was captured and sent to Guantanamo. He is now 26. He pleaded guilty at Gitmo in 2010, receiving an 8 year sentence which specified he would be eligible to return to Canada after one year. Now in Canada, he will be eligible to apply for parole after one year. [More...]

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Omar Khadr Gets 40 Year Trophy Sentence, Could Be Freed Next Year

A Guantanamo military commission jury has sentenced child soldier Omar Khadr to 40 years.

The Pentagon makes a big deal of saying Khadr won't get credit for time served. And they bury the most salient fact: It's an 8 year sentence, limited by the plea agreement, and he'll serve one more year at Guantanamo and then be returned to Canada to serve the rest.

Khadr’s sentence is limited by the terms of his plea agreement to eight years confinement, but he receives the benefit of whichever is less -- the adjudged sentence or the eight-year sentence limitation. Consistent with the terms of Khadr's plea agreement, the governments of Canada and the United States exchanged notes reflecting that both would support Khadr's transfer to Canadian custody to serve the remainder of his approved sentence after he serves one year in U.S. custody.

Omar has spent the last 8 years, one-third of his life, in U.S. detention. Hopefully, Canada will grant him an early release. The U.S. acknowledged in its diplomatic note exchange with Canada that Canada could release him at any time after he arrives there. [More...]

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Child Soldier Omar Khadr Pleads Guilty at Guantanamo

Child soldier Omar Khadr pleaded guilty today in his military commission trial at Guantanamo.

Mr. Khadr agreed to plead guilty “in exchange for the Canadian government agreeing to repatriate him back to Canada after one year,” said his Canadian lawyer Dennis Edney...

The Harper government, despite its strident denials and years of refusing to intervene, endorsed the deal and made an exchange of diplomatic notes with Washington that should pave the way for Mr. Khadr to serve the remainder of his sentence in Canada, beginning next fall.

A jury will now recommend a sentence length for Khadr, but it only matters if it is less than the 8 years he agreed to in the plea agreement.

The details are sealed for now, but should be disclosed after the jury renders its verdict. Human rights groups quickly assailed the deal as unfair to Khadr: [More...]

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Four Days Inside Guantanamo: Omar Khadr Movie Released

Coming to a theater near you, Four Days Inside Guantanamo: You Don't Like the Truth. It's the story of the interrogation of child soldier Omar Khadr, based on the You Tube videos of his interrogation by Canadian officials at Guantanamo (See here and here. The tapes were released in 2008.)

Two filmmakers [Luc Cote and Patricio Henriquez] take footage of Omar Khadr interrogation to create YouTube videos and carry on to a feature documentary

...The core of this extraordinary feature documentary is the much-discussed video footage of interrogations of Omar Khadr by Canadian Security Intelligence Service agents that was made public following a Supreme Court of Canada ruling two years ago.

The movie premiered at a film festival Thursday and opens in Montreal and Toronto on October 29.

The filmmakers' point -and I think it's tough to disagree with them -is that whether or not Khadr is guilty, it's an outrage that Canadian security agents would interrogate him under these circumstances, in a prison that has no international legal legitimacy. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled this year that this interrogation was indeed a violation of Khadr's rights.

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Omar Khadr Guantanamo Trial Postponed At Least 30 Days

Carol Rosenberg of McClatchy has the latest on the abrupt cessation of the military commission proceeding against child soldier Omar Khadr due to his lawyer's collapse in court yesterday.

Lt. Col. Jackson, who had gall bladder surgery six weeks ago, is suffering from complications from the surgery. He is being airlifted back to the U.S. The trial has been postponed at least 30 days.

Jackson, who has been on the case for about a year, became Khadr's lone lawyer within a week of his surgery after the Toronto-born teen fired volunteer civilian attorneys Barry Coburn and Kobie Flowers from Washington D.C.

[Judge]Parrish ordered the Army defender to stay on the case, but the Pentagon Defense Office provided him no additional assistance beyond two enlisted paralegals who had already been on the case.

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Omar Khadr's Lawyer Collapses in Court, Trial Recessed

Via Daphne Eviatar and Carol Rosenberg on Twitter: Lt. Col. Jon Jackson, the sole defense attorney for child soldier Omar Khadr collapsed in court at Guantanamo today while cross examining a witness. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital and is expected to be okay. But the trial has been postponed, at least until tomorrow.

The witness, Retired US Army "Sgt Major D", was part of the assault team that captured Omar Khadr on July 27, 2002. He's a DOD consultant now.

"SgtMajor D" testified he shot Khadr in the back during the fight in which the grenade was thrown.

According to one of Khadr's civilian lawyers (who is not trying the case) Omar was very upset.

I'll update with more details when available.

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Guantanamo Military Commissions Proceedings Underway

Two military commission proceedings are underway at Guantanamo Bay. The first is of Ibrahim al Qosi, who entered a plea deal last month, the terms of which are sealed. He is being sentenced today. Human Rights First has background on his case here.

The Judge in the Quosi case has just announced that Quosi's sentence will remain sealed until he's freed.

The second is the trial of child soldier Omar Khadr (background here.) Pre-trial motions will be heard first, likely to take all day, and trial will commence when they are done, probably tomorrow.

Two courtrooms are being used. McClatchy reporter Carol Rosenberg is already tweeting: Reports are that Omar Khadr has been brought to court and there are some serious tech problems with the video feed into the room where the print reporters are. You can follow her on Twitter here. [More...]

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Omar Khadr Trial: Window View or Shades Pulled Down?

Bumped from Saturday: There are a several excellent journalists and writers now on the ground at Guantanamo, ready to report on the military commissions trial of child soldier Omar Khadr, now 23, which is set to begin Tuesday (Hearings on motions will be held Monday. Here is the list of motions scheduled to be heard. Motions could go past Monday.)

Carol Rosenberg of McClatchy has a summary today, with an article titled "Khadr trial will be a window into America's war on terror." [More...]

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Omar Khadr's Brother Freed in Canada, U.S. Extradition Request Denied

In 2005, the U.S. issued an extradition warrant for Abdullah Khadr, the brother of Guantanamo child solder Omar Khadr, whose Guantanamo trial begins Tuesday. He's been in jail in Canada ever since. Now 29, Abdullah was freed Wednesday when a Canadian court refused to extradite him.

He is wanted in the U.S. for allegedly purchasing weapons for al-Qaida and plotting to kill Americans abroad. The U.S. case against Khadr relied on a statement he made to the FBI and Canadian police in Pakistan, and information he gave when he arrived in Toronto in December 2005. Khadr's lawyers argued the statements made in Pakistan were the result of torture.

And, that's $500,000.00 the CIA threw down the drain. It paid that amount as a bounty to Pakistani authorities in 2004 to detain Abdullah. He was then turned over to Canada which arrested him on the U.S. warrant.

Canada's Justice Minister Rob Nicholson says the government would study the ruling closely before deciding whether to appeal.

[More...]

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Omar Khadr to Boycott Military Commission, Issues Statement

Former child soldier, Canadian Omar Khadr, told the judge at his Guantanamo military proceeding he wanted to fire his lawyers. His request was refused. Now, he will boycott the proceedings.

“The unfairness of the rules will make a person so depressed that he will admit to any allegations or take a plea offer that will satisfy the U.S. government.”

...I will not willingly let the U.S. government use me to fulfill its goal,” Mr. Khadr said. “I have been used too many times when I was a child, and that's why I'm here – taking blame for things I didn't have a choice in doing, but was forced to do by elders.”

He called the process a "sham" and denounced the plea bargain that had been offered to him. The deal was:[More...]

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Four Reporters Banned from Omar Khadr Gitmo Hearings

Four reporters, including Michelle Shepphard of the Toronto Star, who has done ground-breaking reporting on Omar Khadr, have been banned from attending the hearings underway in his case.

Their violation: Publishing the name of one of his interrogators. The interrogator's name has previously been published in news articles, and he gave on on-the-record interview to Michelle Shepphard in 2008. The ACLU responds:

“That reporters are being punished for disclosing information that has been publicly available for years is nothing short of absurd – any gag order that covers this kind of information is not just overbroad but nonsensical. Plainly, no legitimate government interest is served by suppressing information that is already well known.

We strongly urge the Defense Department to reconsider its rash, draconian and unconstitutional decision to bar these four reporters from future tribunals. If allowed to stand, this decision will discourage legitimate reporting and add yet another entry to the long list of reasons why the military commissions ought to be shut down for good.”

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Omar Khadr Hearing Shows Lack of Reliability of Statements Obtained Coercively

The military commission proceedings against Canadian child soldier Omar Khadr continued this week. At issue is the voluntariness of the statements the then 15 year old made after being found in a pile of rubble, shot three times and blinded in one eye.

Was he provided pain medication? Apparently not. (More on that here.) Yet the CIA agent who "interviewed" him (after the military and the FBI got their turn) testified:

CIA agent, Robert Fuller, testified that he treated Khadr very well, brought him water and snacks, and that Khadr "appeared happy - as happy as he could be." Khadr never complained to him of abuse, Fuller says.

The information Khadr provided turned out to be false. And to have grave consequences. Remember Maher Arar, grabbed at JFK airport and shipped to Syria where he was tortured for a year? [More...]

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Growing Up and In Pain at Gitmo: Omar Khadr Hearings

Canadian Omar Khadr was 15 when captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan. The child of Jihad was blinded in one eye and shot three times by U.S. soldiers. A very gruesome picture of him laying injured on the ground is here. Then he was questioned. He has vision problems in his other eye, and is in pain from the leftover shrapnel remaining in his eyes. Guantanamo doesn't have an opthamologist. Treatment, consisting of eye drops, is dispensed by an optometrist.

He was abused and subjected to torture during his confinement. He was used as a "human mop." He was threatened with rape and extradition to Egypt.

The U.S. is trying him in a military commission proceeding. This week, hearings are underway to determine if his post-capture statements were obtained via impermissible coercive techniques.
[More...]

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Hearing in Canada on Fate of Child Soldier Omar Khadr


(Omar Khadr when captured and today, via the Toronto Star)

The Supreme Court in Canada held oral arguments today in the case of Canadian child soldier Omar Khadr. According to Attorney General Eric Holder's statements today, Khadr will be among those tried by military commission.

Holder also revealed that Canadian detainee Omar Khadr will be prosecuted before a U.S. military tribunal – but the attorney general indicated the U.S. government will remain open to the possibility returning detainee Omar Khadr to Canada, depending on the outcome of a Supreme Court hearing underway today in Ottawa.

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Guantanamo Lawyers Squabble: An Embarrassment for All

Omar Khadr's lawyers continued their bickering in court today. The military judge scolded them and praised Canadian detainee Omar Khadr for his good behavior. Khadr has been detained since he was captured in Afghanistan at age 15. He's now 22. (Background here.)

A visibly angry Parrish lashed out at Khadr's lawyers and encouraged the Toronto-born captive to meet with them again during today's session. He commended Khadr for being "well spoken" and warned the lawyers to act in a "professional and dignified" manner. Khadr said it wasn't possible. "They just had a fight this morning," he told Parrish.

Today's hearing was considered an embarrassment for Guantanamo's defence office and the Obama administration, which has asked to have the cases suspended until the fall and pledged to close this prison by January.

But, the Judge made Omar pick between the dueling military lawyers. He wants his own Canadian lawyers, but under the misguided, inadequate military tribunal rules, he can't have them, except in an advisory capacity.[More...]

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