National Security Reporter
Published On Thu Oct 29 2009
Ottawa has spent more than $1.3-million fighting against Toronto-born captive Omar Khadr, who has been held at the U.S.-run Guantanamo Bay detention centre for seven years, the government has revealed.
The legal tab for a handful of cases brought by Khadr’s lawyers challenging his treatment at the hands of Canadian authorities after he was captured fighting in Afghanistan in 2002 runs to $1,335,342.37.
The figures were contained in a written government response released this week to a question posed in the House of Commons by the New Democratic Party in June.
"Every thread of this case shows the government is in denial of its responsibility, but now we find out it’s also spending a significant amount of money just to fight repatriation, which means the end result is that they’re spending money to keep him in Guantanamo," said NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar.
The first legal challenge brought by Khadr in Canadian court sought an injunction on interrogations by Canadian intelligence officials at Guantanamo. Spies from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service questioned Khadr twice in 2003 and a foreign affairs official returned alone in the spring of 2004.
The federal court ruled that the agents violated Khadr’s constitutional right by passing the information they gathered to the U.S. Justice Konrad von Finckenstein who wrote that he granted the injunction "to prevent a potential grave injustice."
The most recent legal round has Khadr pressing the government to request his repatriation to Canada. The Federal Court has ordered the Conservatives to ask that he be returned to Canadian soil.
The government lost an appeal of that decision and will make its ultimate arguments in the case on Nov. 13 at the Supreme Court of Canada.
"There’s that old notion of blind justice," Dewar said. "But they’re just in blind denial of what is happening with Mr. Khadr’s case."
The Khadr saga resurfaced Thursday following the publication in the Star of classified battle scene photos. Lawyers for the Canadian captive say the pictures show the 15-year-old buried under debris from a collapsed roof proves he could not have thrown the grenade that fatally wounded U.S. Delta Force soldier Christopher Speer.
The Pentagon has charged Khadr with five war crimes, including murder for Speer’s death. All Guantanamo trials were suspended in January when U.S. President Barack Obama vowed to shut the prison and appointed a task force to review the cases. An announcement as to whether Khadr will be tried and where — either before a military commission or in a Washington D.C. court — is expected by Nov. 16.
Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae said he wants the Obama administration to hold off deciding Khadr’s fate until the Supreme Court rules.
"The concern is that the U.S. may pre-empt that, and of course the Harper government has refused to intervene despite having been told by two courts that that’s what it has to do," Rae told the Star Thursday.