Colvin a protected `whistleblower,’ Cannon says

The Canadian Press

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon says diplomat Richard Colvin had a right to make his explosive allegations about Afghan prisoners.

He says Colvin exercised his prerogative as a whistleblower by saying Ottawa ignored his warnings that Canadian soldiers were turning Afghan detainees over to torture.

At the same time, Cannon stuck to the Conservative government line that the allegations have not been proven.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has severely criticized Colvin, calling him a Taliban dupe.

Cannon now says the government will wait until a parliamentary committee has completed its investigation.

The minister also says the issue of prisoner detainees did not come up during his various discussions with Afghan and coalition colleagues in Kabul last week.

David Mulroney the federal government’s senior adviser on Afghanistan says he encouraged diplomatic officials to report their insights and observations "freely and honestly," as long as they were accurate and objective.

Mulroney has written to the chairman of a Commons committee investigating allegations of prisoner abuse in Afghanistan to allow him to answer claims that officials tried to quash reports on the issue.

The Conservative government has described Colvin’s allegations as hearsay, unsubstantiated and "simply not credible."

"During the hearing, some very serious allegations were made," Mulroney wrote from Beijing, where he is currently serving as ambassador to China.

"Some touched directly upon my work, that of my colleagues and of the government of Canada. I would welcome the opportunity to address these allegations and set the record straight."

Mulroney says in his letter to Conservative MP Rick Casson, chairman of the special committee on the Afghan mission, that Canada is at the forefront of detainee monitoring and always recognized that "the human rights situation in Afghanistan was cause for concern."–colvin-a-protected-whistleblower-cannon-says

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