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'Lord of the Rings' script seized at Guantanamo

USA Today
April 10, 2008

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) — Guards have confiscated a "Lord of the Rings" movie screenplay from a former child soldier awaiting trial at Guantanamo, his lawyer and U.S. officials said Thursday.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler, the military-appointed attorney for Canadian Omar Khadr, told reporters he gave the detainee the script to build trust.

In addition to seizing the screenplay, the military said he could no longer play dominos and chess during visits with Khadr, who was 15 when he was captured by the U.S. military after a firefight in Afghanistan in 2002.

Kuebler said the games and the screenplay are essential to his ability to defend his client: "There is an enormous challenge to building a rapport."

Khadr faces a war crimes trial later this year on charges including murder for the death of a U.S. special forces soldier, Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Guantanamo officials issued a statement that guards found the screenplay along with other unapproved items, including news articles from the Internet, mixed with legal papers that the prisoner is allowed to keep.

"The Lord of the Rings screenplay has been returned to ... Kuebler as a violation of the prohibition against providing detainees materials that are not directly related to his representation of his client," the military said.

A spokesman for the detention center, Army Lt. Col. Ed Bush, said all three installments of the book version of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy are available to prisoners.

It was not clear why Khadr, now 21, wanted the screenplay. Some detainees have complained through their lawyers about long waits for books from Guantanamo's library.

The U.S. holds about 275 men at Guantanamo on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaeda and the Taliban and has said it plans to prosecute about 80 before a special war crimes tribunal.

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