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Omar Khadr should be brought home

Re: “Omar Kadr is a traitor,” March 6 Norm Harley’s letter demanding that Omar Khadr remain at Guantanamo and be tried by the U.S.

Re: “Omar Kadr is a traitor,” March 6

Norm Harley’s letter demanding that Omar Khadr remain at Guantanamo and be tried by the U.S. military is disturbing enough, but it is appalling to read that Harley appears to condone the torture administered to this young Canadian, who was only 15 when his domineering father placed him in the hands of al Qaeda. It is also important to know the history of the so-called ‘fire fight’ that occurred on July 27, 2002 when a U.S. soldier was killed by a grenade allegedly thrown by Khadr.

Khadr was living with a group of al Qaeda and some local citizens in a grouping of mud huts in a village when the U.S. military made an early morning attack on the village with two special force groups, a five armed-vehicle convoy, two A-10 Warthogs and Apache gun ships totally destroying the mud huts.

Khadr was shot twice in the back and also in the head, permanently damaging his left eye. He was covered in rubble; on site soldiers have testified that they could not see how Khadr could have thrown a grenade because he was severely wounded. I have seen photographs of Khadr with large exit wounds on his chest.

Khadr has been in solitary confinement for eight long years, interrogated by U.S. military and Canadian CSIS agents who did not provide counsel to him and turned over their notes to the U.S. military. The U.S. ‘softened up’ Khadr for CSIS by hanging him by his wrists, waterboarding him, and depriving him of sleep and bathroom access.

One of his interrogators, Joshua Claus, was convicted by a military court of abusing detainees.

Khadr was brought to a military court on June 4, 2007 but the judge threw out all charges. He found that there was no substantial evidence that Khadr threw the grenade because he was so seriously wounded in the U.S. strike.

The Federal Court of Canada has ruled that Khadr’s rights were violated by Canadian officials and that he should be returned to Canada.

This decision was appealed by the Harper government, but on August 14, 2009 the Federal Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s decision. The government appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which returned a 9-0 decision confirming the initial decision that Khadr’s constitutional rights had been violated. To date, this has cost the Canadian taxpayer more than $2 million.

Earlier this week, a top story out of Washington says that the Obama administration is seeking a way to have Canada repatriate Khadr to this country because they do not want to go to trial against a former 15-year-old child soldier that is doomed to fail because of lack of evidence topped by the fact that Khadr’s rights have been frequently violated.

Yes, the Gazette editorial was right. It’s time to do the right thing and bring Khadr home.

Bob Russell, St. Albert