Canada oppositions call on Obama to release 'child' Gitmo detainee

The opposition leaders called on Obama to acknowledge Khadr's status as a child soldier and to return him promptly to Canada.

Canada oppositions call on Obama to release 'child' Gitmo detainee

Canada's three opposition parties called on U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday to arrange for the immediate release of Canadian Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr.

The joint appeal from the heads of the three opposition parties came ahead of Obama's visit to Canada next Thursday for talks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, when the question of Khadr's fate is likely to arise.

Though Canadian-born, Khadr is from a family that lived much of the time in Pakistan and had allegedely close ties to al Qaeda.

He is charged with killing a U.S. soldier during a firefight in Afghanistan in 2002, when he was then aged 15. Now 22, he is the only western detainee left in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

In an open letter to the president, the opposition leaders called on Obama to acknowledge Khadr's status as a child soldier and to return him promptly to Canada, where most analysts believe he would be unlikely to face charges.

"We recognize that the current U.S. administration is in the process of evaluating the situation at Guantanamo Bay with a view to correcting possible past injustices," the leaders said in the letter.

"We conclude, however, that in view of Mr. Khadr's unique circumstances, it is no longer appropriate to allow Mr. Khadr to be detained by the United States."

Canada's Conservative government has maintained the position close to US that the charges against Khadr were serious enough that Ottawa should not intervene in the U.S. legal process.

Separately, Khadr's lawyers held a news conference in Toronto to say their client would be happy to face Canadian justice and undergo a rehabilitation if returned to Canada.

Reuters

Last Mod: 13 Şubat 2009, 14:24
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