Khadr trial may be halted
Obama administration presses for adjournment
By THE CANADIAN PRESS
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba -- The new administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has verbally ordered the prosecution to seek a 120-day adjournment in war-crimes cases at Guantanamo Bay.
The prosecution has filed a motion with the military commission in the case of Canadian Omar Khadr and those of the men accused of plotting the 9-11 attacks.
The motion will be argued first thing this morning.
The spokesman said it is still up to the judge to decide whether to grant what is known as a continuance.
The defence says it would not support such a motion, insisting the charges should instead be stayed.
In evidence yesterday, Khadr identified Canadian Maher Arar from a photograph the day before the U.S. sent the Ottawa software engineer to Syria where he was tortured, an FBI special agent testified - a confluence of events Khadr's lawyer derisively called an "amazing coincidence."
In contrast to testimony he gave Monday, special agent Robert Fuller told Khadr's war-crimes hearing that the young Canadian was not immediately able to name Arar, but did say he looked familiar.
"We gave him an opportunity to think about the photograph and where he may have seen him," Fuller said under cross-examination.
"A couple of minutes, maybe."
Fuller interrogated Khadr, who had just turned 16, on five different occasions in October at the U.S.-run Bagram prison in Afghanistan, where the badly injured teenager was taken following a deadly firefight near the Afghan town of Khost in July 2002.
The sole purpose of the Oct. 7 interview - the first of the five - was to see if Khadr could identify Arar.
The Toronto-born Khadr told his interrogators he had never seen Arar in Canada, but rather had seen him "several times" at an al-Qaida safehouse in Kabul, and possibly as well at a training camp just outside the Afghan capital, the agent said.
The safehouse was run by Abu Musab al-Siri, a Syrian considered to be a key al-Qaida strategist.
Fuller said he was unaware at the time of the interview that Arar had been detained in New York City two weeks earlier, having been pulled off his plane during a stopover en route back to Canada from Zurich following a vacation in the Middle East.
Nor did Fuller know the U.S. rendered Arar to Syria on Oct. 8 rather than follow normal practice and return him to Canada.
"Do you have any knowledge in fact that the lead you obtained from Omar Khadr led to Mr. Arar's deportation in October of 2002 to Syria, one day after you had obtained that information from Mr. Khadr?" Ruiz asked.
"No," Fuller said.
Lt.-Cmdr. Bill Kuebler, who is defending Khadr before a military commission, sarcastically called it an "amazing coincidence" the U.S. would send Arar to Syria the very day after the interrogation.