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Lawyers release Guantanamo interrogation tape

Latest update : 2008-07-21

The attorneys of Guantanamo inmate Omar Khadr released the first videotape of a questioning in the US-run prison. The footage covers the seven-and-a-half hour interrogation of Khadr, 16 years old at the time.

Lawyers of Omar Khadr, a Canadian Guatanamo Bay prisoner, have released video footage of the young man being interrogated by Canadian officials in a bid to raise awareness of the man’s plight. This is the first time such footage has been released and it seems the prisoner was filmed through ventilation shafts in the interrogation room.

If the video footage, filmed in February 2003, shows no scenes of torture and abuse, it portrays a very distressed young man pleading for help and having a nervous breakdown. In one of the eeriest scenes, the 16-year-old teenager, is left, sobbing and apparently repeating the words "help me" or "ya omi" (oh mummy).

Khadr accuses his interrogators, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) agents, of not “caring about him.” When Khadr says he wants to go back to Canada, one interrogator says there is “not anything [he] can do about that.”

In a phone interview with FRANCE 24, Khadr’s lawyer, Nathan Whitling, says they released extracts of the video “in the faint hope the Canadian government will demand the release of Omar Khadr.”

In the extracts, Khadr takes off his shirt and shows his wounds to the interrogators, complaining that he can no longer move his arm. According to Whitling, Omar says his wounds were used to torture him during interrogations at a detention centre in Bagram, Afghanistan.

One interrogator responds by telling Khadr he is receiving good medical care and that he needs to cooperate.

The Canadian is waiting for trial and has been accused of killing a US soldier during a battle in Afghanistan in 2002. He was captured and sent to Guantanamo that same year. But an Amnesty International specialist on Guantanamo, Yves Triguent, told FRANCE 24: “Khadr’s father forced him to join pro-Taliban brigades when he was 9 years old. He is clearly a child soldier and cannot be tried for war crimes.”

Citing government files released by court order, Canadian media said Khadr was moved to a different cell every three hours at GuantanamoBay to make him more amenable to talking in what US authorities described as their "frequent-flyer program."

The video's release comes after Canadian media reports that government documents showed Khadr was forcibly deprived of sleep by his US captors in Guantanamo to soften him up for questioning.

According to Whitling, Khadr will be tried on Oct. 7 but, even if he cleared of charges, he might not be released from US custody under the present “War on Terror” policies.
 

Date created : 2008-07-15

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