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Omar Khadr's civil suit against Ottawa seeks $10-million

In this courtroom drawing by artist Janet Hamlin, reviewed by the US military, Canadian-born accused terrorist Omar Khadr attends a pre-trial session in Camp Justice on the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Friday, Dec. 12, 2008.

Janet Hamlin/Janet Hamlin/AP

Omar Khadr remains in Guantanamo Bay, but his Canadian lawyers are already seeking $10-million in damages from the Canadian government for its alleged complicity in his ordeal.

Nate Whitling, a lawyer for the Khadr family, confirmed that a stalled civil suit is now seeking millions on behalf of Mr. Khadr, up from the original $100,000 sought when it was launched years ago.

"That's been out there for a while," Mr. Whitling said, adding the proposed damages were amended following court-ordered disclosures regarding the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's role in interviewing Mr. Khadr in Guantanamo.

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The Canadian suit remains years away from resolution. U.S. legal processes are still ongoing, and authorities in Washington have never retreated from their decision to hold Mr. Khadr as an alleged al-Qaeda enemy.

Last month, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld that the CSIS interviews violated Mr. Khadr's Charter rights as a Canadian citizen, reinforcing a series of previous court rulings have ruled that CSIS should have stayed away from gathering intelligence inside the "legal black hole" represented by the U.S. prison camp for "illegal enemy combatants."

Mr. Khadr's lawyers have obtained videotapes of CSIS agents interviewing Mr. Khadr in "Gitmo" as well as diplomatic notes indicating Canadian agents knew he had been subjected to sleep deprivation by U.S. soldiers in a bid to get him to talk.

While ruling these practises amounted to breach of Mr. Khadr's rights, Canadian courts have stopped short of ordering Canada's Conservative government to press the United States to send him to Canada.

Supporters of Mr. Khadr remain hopeful that he will be repatriated soon.

In 2002, Mr. Khadr was captured in Afghanistan as a 15-year-old fighter.

He was the sole survivor of his faction, while one U.S. soldier was killed in the battle.

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The Pentagon has alleged that Mr. Khadr - who was shot several times in the battle - threw a grenade the killed U.S. Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer, and that this act constitutes murder.

Since his capture, Mr. Khadr was interrogated at the Bagram military base in Afghanistan and then later at Guantanamo, which operates on leased U.S. land in Cuba.

Intelligence agents were after information about his father, since slain and heralded as a "martyr" by al-Qaeda figures.

Egyptian-born Ahmed Said Khadr had worked as an engineer in Canada prior to uprooting his family to Afghanistan to live in a compound with Osama bin Laden.

The Khadr father is said to have loaned his young son to a prominent al-Qaeda lieutenant who was resisting the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.

The $10-million figure, while steep, is not unheard of.

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In 2006, Ottawa officials awarded a near-record compensation package of that amount to Maher Arar, the Canadian engineer who spent a year jailed in Syria as a suspected al-Qaeda member.

A Canadian judge ruled that Canadian police circulated inaccurate intelligence about Mr. Arar prior to his ordeal, intelligence that led U.S. agents to arrest him at a New York airport and then, send him to his native Syria for interrogation.

Mr. Justice Dennis O'Connor ruled that Ottawa should compensate Mr. Arar for torture suffered at the hands of Syrian officials.

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About the Author
National security reporter

Focusing on Canadian matters during the past decade, Colin Freeze has reported extensively on the interplay between government, police, spy services, and the judiciary. Colin has twice been to Afghanistan to be embedded with the Canadian military. More


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