Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Guilty plea only way out: Khadr

Ex-Guantanamo inmate felt 'hopeless'

  • Print

TORONTO -- Former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr has explained for the first time why he pleaded guilty to five war crimes, saying it was because he was left with a "hopeless" choice.

In a new court filing obtained by The Canadian Press, Khadr says he knew the Americans could have held him indefinitely -- even in the highly unlikely case he would have been acquitted.

"I was left with a hopeless choice," Khadr, 27, says in the affidavit sworn Friday. "If I wanted the chance to eventually return to my home of Canada, I would have to be found guilty of crimes as determined by the U.S. government, which could then lead to me serving my sentence in Canada."

The affidavit, filed in Federal Court, comes as part of Khadr's $20-million lawsuit against the federal government for violation of his rights.

Without the plea agreement he signed in October 2010, Khadr says he would have faced the possibility of lifelong detention and "continued abuse and torture" at Guantanamo Bay. The entire agreement, including the agreed stipulation of facts, was put together by the American government, he says.

'Any participation in al-Qaida-related activities was at the demand of the adults around me'

-- Omar Khadr affidavit

The Toronto-born Khadr also makes it clear -- in contrast to the agreed facts in the plea deal -- he has never believed Jews or Americans should be killed or deserve to die, and says he never willingly joined an al-Qaida terrorist cell.

"Any participation in al-Qaida-related activities was at the demand of the adults around me," his affidavit says -- the first time Khadr has addressed the issue publicly.

He also says the American case against him was based in part on evidence supplied by Canadian intelligence officials, who interviewed him at the U.S. naval base after his transfer there from Afghanistan.

Documents also filed show Canadian intelligence officials, who were pursuing a case against Khadr's father and a possible terrorism charge against him, knew the Americans would only grant access to the teen if they would share information with the U.S.

"U.S. State Department would permit Canadian authorities an opportunity to interview Omar Khadr should it be established that such interviews would further any investigation within their jurisdiction," according to one RCMP memo from September 2002.

Khadr's lawyers are trying to get those links included as part of the civil lawsuit against Ottawa, which has denied any wrongdoing.

The Americans detained Khadr as a terribly wounded 15-year-old following a four-hour firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002 in which a U.S. special forces soldier was killed.

Khadr says he has no memories of that battle or of the grenade that killed Sgt. Christopher Speer.

He also insists he had no plans to kill any soldiers, nor did he attack any of the U.S. forces who entered the compound after the battle was over.

Those denials, however, would have left him unable to enter the plea deal before a widely maligned military commission, which sentenced him to a further eight years behind bars.

Khadr was transferred to Canada in September 2012 to serve the rest of his sentence and is currently in an Edmonton maximum-security facility. The federal government has repeatedly denounced Khadr as an unrepentant terrorist.

Khadr is also appealing his underlying conviction in the U.S. on the basis the offences to which he pleaded guilty -- including murder in violation of the rule of law -- have no validity in either international or American domestic law. His affidavit also states he never signed away his rights to appeal that conviction.

Khadr says his detention conditions deteriorated after he pleaded guilty, and he was interrogated for up to nine hours a day for nine or 10 days at a stretch.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 14, 2013 A22

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Theresa Oswald Leadership Bid

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. Baby peregrine falcons. 21 days old. Three baby falcons. Born on ledge on roof of Radisson hotel on Portage Avenue. Project Coordinator Tracy Maconachie said that these are third generation falcons to call the hotel home. Maconachie banded the legs of the birds for future identification as seen on this adult bird swooping just metres above. June 16, 2004.
  • MIKE APORIUS/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS BUSINESS - cow on farm owned by cattle farmer Lloyd Buchanan near Argyle Wednesday afternoon -see Larry Kusch's story  January 04/2006

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

How will you be spending the holiday season? (select all that apply)

View Results

Ads by Google