Canada opposition leaders call for release of Canadian terror suspect from Guantanamo

Other News Materials 11 February 2009 21:29 (UTC +04:00)

Canada's opposition leaders are urging Ottawa and Washington to negotiate an agreement on the release of a Canadian terror suspect long being held at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Xinhua reported.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, NDP Leader Jack Layton and Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe have written a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama calling on both governments "to act immediately" to release Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen, local media reported Wednesday.

Khadr has been held at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since he was wounded and captured by U.S. soldiers in a July 2002 firefight in Afghanistan. He has been charged with murder but has been imprisoned without trial for seven years.
The leaders say that because Khadr was 15 at the time of his arrest, Obama should acknowledge Khadr's status as a child soldier and "promptly release him."

"The interests of justice require acknowledgment of his status as a child soldier, his release from Guantanamo Bay, and his prompt return to Canada to be dealt with in accordance with Canadian law," the leaders write.
However, Prime Minister Harper has refused to pressure U.S. officials to send Khadr back to Canada, and rejects suggestions that Khadr, who is now 22, should be considered a child soldier.

Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon has said that Ottawa would wait for a U.S. task force to review Khadr's case and decide whether he and other Guantanamo prisoners should be sent to their home countries, released or transferred to another U.S. prison.