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Cdn looks 'unwell' in Guantanamo

The Edmonton Sun
By Nicki Thomas
June 22, 2007

Omar Khadr continues to spend his days in a windowless steel cell at Guantanamo Bay, despite the fact that charges against him were dismissed by U.S. military judge Col. Peter Brownback.

Brownback said the court had no jurisdiction over Khadr because he wasn’t classified as an “unlawful enemy combatant” but rather an “enemy combatant,” who has the right to fight.

Khadr was picked up in Afghanistan in 2002 at the age of 15.

The Pentagon alleges that the young man threw the grenade that killed an American soldier.

Before the June 4 trial, his Edmonton-based lawyer, Dennis Edney, said 20-year-old Khadr was “a broken young man.”

“He looked thin. He looked pale. He looked unwell,” Edney said of Khadr after their first face-to-face meeting in May.

Khadr’s mental and physical state have not improved since Brownback’s ruling, said Edney.

“Nothing’s changed for him,” said Edney.

Edney said that his client has been denied the right to due process and pointed to remarks made last month by John Bellinger, legal advisor to the Secretary of State, as proof that Khadr’s rights are being violated.

Before the trial, Bellinger said Khadr could be kept in prison indefinitely even if he was found not guilty.

Edney said the government needs to step up and demand that Canadian detainees be released, just as Australia and Britain did for their citizens who were being held.

The public can have an influence on the government, Edney said.

“Do what the Australian and British public did and say ‘enough is enough,’” he said.

There are questions the Canadian public should be asking as well, said Edney.

“How does Omar Khadr become a terrorist on a battlefield?” he asked. “The laws of war don’t say that.

“Why should the son be held responsible for the father?”

Khadr’s father, an alleged al Qaeda financier and close friend of Osama bin Laden, sent his son to Afghanistan.

Edney’s condemnation of Khadr’s treatment came one day before U.S. officials announced they are trying to shut down Guantanamo but aren’t sure how to do it.

“We fully and acutely recognize that Guantanamo Bay has become a lightning rod for criticism around the world, and this is something of deep concern to this administration and to Secretary (of State Condoleezza) Rice in particular,” Bellinger said in congressional testimony this week.

– With files from Reuters

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