Backgrounder – Omar Khadr

At his trial last week, there were a number of events that could have been taken into account:

  1. Omar is blind in one eye due to shrapnel from the Delta Force bombing of the compound where Omar was staying.
  2. During a decade in Guantanamo, he did not receive any medical care to prevent total loss of vision; most of those years, Omar was in solitary confinement and exposed to 24 hours of fluorescent lighting. For years he was denied sunglasses for “state security” reasons.
  3. Under a polo shirt were wounds where two chunks of his chest and shoulder were blown out when he was shot in the back at point blank by a Delta Force soldier.
  4. While the wounds were still raw, he was hooded, wrists shackled to the ceiling and made to stand for hours.
  5. Omar has spent most of the past 11 years in solitary confinement, deprived of all human contact in a window-less cell, food thrust through a slot in the door. For most of a decade he was shackled to the floor of his cell and five times a week led in handcuffs and leg irons to a small chain-link cage for 20 minutes of solitary exercise.
  6. Omar was the only Guantanamo inmate to be totally abandoned by his own country. Last spring, Vic Toews (at the time Minister of Public Safety) denied access to a Canadian Press prison interview with Omar as a “public safety threat.”
  7. Dennis Edney has represented Omar on a pro bono basis for the past decade. “Guantanamo changed me. I went in a lawyer and came out a broken father.” Omar will apparently be welcome to join the Edney family in their Edmonton home if and when freed.
  8. Omar was never tried in a regularly-constituted court. In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled U.S. Pentagon military commissions unconstitutional. Evidence points to Omar’s innocence.

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