U.S. hands over Omar Khadr material; Toews urged to make transfer decision
Published Wednesday, September 5, 2012 5:07PM EDT
TORONTO -- American military authorities have given the Canadian government the videotapes and documents it wanted related to Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr, Ottawa confirmed Wednesday.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said he needed them to decide on Khadr's application to transfer to Canadian custody.
"Canada received the documents and tapes this afternoon," Toews' spokeswoman, Julie Carmichael, said Wednesday.
"When the items are reviewed, the minister will give them the appropriate consideration and render a decision in accordance with Canadian law."
One of Khadr's Canadian lawyers said there was now no reason for Toews to drag out the decision-making process any longer given Canada's commitment almost two years ago to take him back, and urged the minister to act.
"He should make a decision now," said Brydie Bethell. "There's absolutely no reason for him not to decide."
Toews said he needed the videotapes and transcripts of the mental evaluations of Khadr -- which were done for the military commission prosecution before his trial in October 2010 -- to help him decide if Khadr would pose a threat to Canada.
Video of the assessments by a civilian psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Welner, and military psychologist, Maj. Alan Hopewell, were sealed by the military commission that convicted the Canadian citizen of war crimes.
Welner, the prosecution's star witness at Khadr's trial who relied in part on writings by an anti-Islamic Danish psychologist, concluded the Toronto-born Khadr, 25, was an unrepentant and dangerous jihadist.
Hopewell deemed Khadr to be defensive and manipulative, but also mentally stable, upbeat, and an independent thinker who saw himself as a Canadian.
Although Toews already had Welner's lengthy report and a slightly redacted version of Hopewell's assessment, he said he wanted the videotapes and full transcripts.
Because Khadr's judge had ordered the tapes sealed, it required a joint prosecution-defence request to the head of the military commission and a security clearance to have them turned over to the Canadian government.
The Pentagon said Tuesday night the materials had been turned over to Canada.
In exchange for pleading guilty before the widely condemned military commission to five crimes that included murder in violation of the law of war, Khadr was sentenced to a further eight years in prison -- one of which was to be served in Guantanamo Bay, the rest in Canada.
Khadr was 15 years old when he was captured badly wounded in Afghanistan in July 2002. He was transferred to Guantanamo Bay a few months later -- almost a decade ago.
Despite his years in detention, two mental-health reports done for the defence portray Khadr as non-radicalized and a good candidate for reintegration.
Both of those reports -- which Toews already had -- say Khadr poses no security threat.
Khadr's Canadian lawyers are asking Federal Court to force Toews to make a decision.