U.S. doesn't want to rush Canada on Khadr, diplomat says
Published Sunday, June 24, 2012 1:35PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, June 24, 2012 2:01PM EDT
Amid accusations of foot-dragging, the United States' ambassador to Canada has defended the nation's pace on the transfer of convicted war criminal Omar Khadr from Guantanamo Bay.
In an interview with CTV's Question Period, American diplomat David Jacobson said he has no desire to ask Canada to hasten the process of repatriating Khadr.
"We respect the process just as you respect our process when the prisoner exchanges are in the other direction," he said in an interview aired Sunday.
Khadr, now 25, pleaded guilty in October 2010 to war crimes committed in Afghanistan while he was 15 years old -- including the murder of American army medic Christopher Speer.
As part of his plea deal, he was sentenced to eight years with one year to be served in Guantanamo Bay. Khadr, who was born in Toronto, was eligible for transfer last October.
U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta signed off on Khadr's transfer that month, but his Canadian counterparts have yet to process the paperwork necessary to bring Khadr back.
"We have completed what we need to do on our side of the border," Jacobson acknowledged. "The ball is now in the Canadian court and we respect their process."
For his part, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews remains aloof about case details, telling reporters that he plans to make a decision in "due course, in accordance with the law."
To date, Khadr has spent nearly 10 years incarcerated at the naval base, which some refer to as "Gitmo" -- a nickname drawn from its military identifying code GTMO.
Khadr's Canadian lawyers John Norris and Brydie Bethell, along with their U.S. counterparts, held a news conference in Ottawa last week to question Canada's progress on the transfer.
During the conference, U.S. lawyer Lt.-Col. Jon Jackson said Canada's movement on Khadr's transfer has resulted in a "great deal of frustration" for those in the United States.
He said other Guantanamo inmates are reluctant to make similar deals after witnessing how Khadr's case has moved along.
Jacobson, however, countered that assessment, saying there was no irritation on the U.S. end.
"There's a process between the United States and Canada, we cannot and do not want to hurry their process along," he said.