For the first time, a videotape has been released from the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay. It shows a detainee, Omar Khadr (photo, from radio-canada.ca), being questioned by Canadian officials in 2003, concerning events leading up to his capture by US forces, Canadian media have said.
The Canadian citizen, 16 years old at the time, is accused of throwing a grenade that killed a US soldier in Afghanistan in 2002. He appears in a distressed state and complaining that he has been tortured.
Mr Khadr’s lawyers made the footage public, after a Supreme Court ruling in May said that the Canadian authorities had to hand over key evidence against him, in order to allow a full defence of the charges he is facing.
During the 10-minute video – filmed secretly through a ventilation shaft – Mr Khadr can be seen crying, his face buried in his hands, and pulling at his hair. He can be heard repeatedly chanting : “Help me.”
He also tells the foreign ministry official and agents from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) that while being held at the US military detention centre at Bagram air base in Afghanistan, he was tortured.
“You don’t care about me”, he says, raising his orange shirt to show wounds.
‘Callous and disgraceful treatmen’
“You know I’m not a doctor, but I think you’re getting good medical care”, said one of the officials to Mr Khadr later.
Mr Khadr was 15 when he was captured by US forces, during a gun battle at a suspected al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. He is the only Westerner still held at the jail.
Dennis Edney, one of Mr Khadr’s lawyers, said they hoped the video would cause an outcry in Canada and pressure Stephen Harper, the country’s prime minister, to demand the US not prosecute their client.
“I hope Canadians will be outraged to see the callous and disgraceful treatment of a Canadian youth”, Mr Edney told the Toronto Star.
“Canadians should demand to know why they’ve been lied to.”
Mr Khadr, now 21, faces multiple terrorism-related charges, the most serious of which is murder. His military tribunal is due to begin at Guantanamo on 8 October and last week, Mr Harper said he would not interfere in it.
Mr Khadr faces up to life in prison if convicted.