Kill me, moans young Guantanamo inmate
The Chronicle Herald (Nova Scotia)
July 15, 2008

TORONTO — Jailhouse video of Omar Khadr under interrogation by a Canadian spy service agent — the first public glimpse of a detainee at Guantanamo Bay — was released Tuesday showing the teenager at times defiant, at times distraught, and rebuffed in his pleas to return to Canada.

Parts of the 10 minutes of video from a hidden camera — selected by his lawyers from more than seven hours of footage — show the 16-year-old Khadr weeping, his face buried in his hands.

In one section, the agent accuses Khadr of using his injuries and emotional state to stonewall the interrogation.

"You're not going to believe me," Khadr says.

"Well, look me straight in the eyes and tell me that you're being honest," the unidentified agent says.

"I am being honest," Khadr says, rubbing his face with his hand.

"You can't even bear to look at me when you're saying that . . . put your hand down."

"No, you don't care about me."

"Well, I do care about you."

Now 21, Khadr is accused by the U.S. of throwing a grenade that killed an American soldier during a firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002. He faces trial before a military commission in October.

He was just 15 when he was found in the rubble of a bombed-out compound — badly wounded and near death.

The remarkable video footage from February 2003 — about six months after his capture — was made public under Canadian court orders and offers an unprecedented glimpse into Guantanamo Bay and interrogation by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Within hours of its release, it was posted on websites — accompanied by media reports — around the world.

At one point, Khadr pulls up the top of his orange prison uniform and shows his wounds from the firefight.

He complains he can't move his arms and hasn't received proper medical attention.

"They look like they're healing well to me," the agent says of the injuries, adding Khadr is getting good care.

"No, I'm not. You're not here (at Guantanamo)," Khadr whimpers.

At another point, Khadr complains about his vision, saying, "I lost my eyes. I lost my feet, everything."

"No, you still have your eyes. Your feet are still at the end of your legs."

Later in the tape, a distraught Khadr is seen rocking, his face in his hands.

What sounds like sobs of "Help me" or "Kill me," are actually Arabic words for "Oh, mother," family members said after viewing the video.

Khadr's sister, Zaynab Khadr, said watching the video was upsetting.

"Very sad," she said. "I mean he is my brother. And he is my baby brother for that."

Release of the video follows intelligence reports made public last week that showed Khadr was abused at the isolated U.S. naval base-turned-prison on the tip of Cuba where he is now the lone western citizen still in detention.

Among other things, he was subject to the "frequent flyer program" — consistently deprived of sleep over three weeks to soften him up for interrogation.

In response to the abuse revelations, Prime Minister Stephen Harper dismissed calls to press for the Toronto-born Khadr's return to Canada, saying the Americans had begun legal proceedings and there was nothing Ottawa could do.

One of Khadr's lawyers, Nate Whitling, said he hoped that attitude would now change.

"We hope that the Canadian government will finally come to recognize that the so-called legal process that has been put in place to deal with Omar Khadr's situation is grossly unfair and abusive," Whitling said from Edmonton.

"It's not appropriate to simply allow this process to run its course."

But there was no indication of movement Tuesday in the federal government position on Khadr.

After release of the video, Anne Howland, a spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister David Emerson, repeated the prime minister's statement of last week, that the Conservative government believes Khadr is in "a legal process that must continue."

Although the video sparked some public sympathy, initial reaction on media websites appeared mostly hostile to the Khadrs.

"What a laugh," one person wrote on one website in a comment typical of many others.

"His lawyers want this to create an outcry in Canada. Remember what this "boy" was doing. I and millions of other Canadians could not possibly care less how old he was."

Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae called Khadr a "child soldier" who should be brought back to Canada for treatment and rehabilitation.

Still, Zaynab Khadr said she wasn't optimistic his situation would improve soon.

She noted another brother, Abdullah Khadr, now in prison in Canada awaiting extradition to the United States, was interrogated by Canadian agents despite having been abused in detention in Pakistan.

"He was tortured for their benefit and he still continues to be in jail and it hasn't changed much, so I can't expect it to be any different in Guantanamo," Zaynab Khadr said.

The videotaped interrogation of Omar Khadr takes place over three days.

On the final day, the agent says he is "very disappointed" with how Khadr had behaved. Khadr replies that he wants to go back to Canada.

"There's not anything I can do about that," the agent says. "I want to stay in Cuba with you. The weather is nice — no snow."

The camera was hidden in a vent and some of the audio at times is of poor quality.

The remaining hours of footage were to be released later Tuesday.

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