2011-07-29 Canadian government determined to send Abdullah Khadr to the US

In a completely predictable move, the Canadian government has appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada to fight their earlier two losses in a bid to extradite Abdullah Khadr to the US. Abdullah Khadr was captured and tortured by Pakistani forces who were paid $500,000 by the US for their efforts. He was held for fourteen months in a Pakistan prison without charges, and arrested again within a week of his return to Canada. He was then held without bail, pending extradition to the US, from December 2005 until his release last August 2010. In response to the application brought by Khadr’s lawyer Dennis Edney, arguing that the US government’s evidence against Khadr was inadmissible because it relied on information gathered under torture in Pakistan, the Ontario Superior Court’s presiding judge called his treatment “both shocking and unjustifiable.”

Canada’s government predictably appealed and in May, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the verdict unanimously. The 33 page decision stated that to allow the extradition would amount to the Canadian courts being complacent with the torture.

“We must adhere to our democratic and legal values, even if that adherence serves in the short term to benefit those who oppose and seek to destroy those values, for if we do not, in the longer term, the enemies of democracy and the rule of law will have succeeded. They will have demonstrated that our faith in our legal order is unable to withstand their threats. … It surely can come as no surprise that in a country like Pakistan with a constitution guaranteeing fundamental rights and freedoms, it is illegal to accept a bounty or bribe from a foreign government, to abduct a foreign national from the street, to beat that individual until he agrees to co-operate, to deny him consular access, to hold him in a secret detention centre for eight months while his utility as an intelligence source is exhausted, and then to continue to hold him in secret detention for six more months at the request of a foreign power,” said the decision. They also pointed out that refusing the extradition does not prevent the Attorney General from bringing the case before Canadian courts.

The government disagrees, stating in their appeal application that the decision will “inevitably lengthen” extradition hearings and make it more difficult for Canada to comply with its international legal obligations. The US has, since the 1999 Extradition Act, enjoyed anunequal extradition treaty with Canada: “The new Act effectively reduces extradition in Canada from a traditionally judicial process (as it remains in the United States) to an essentially administrative process.”

Khadr’s lawyer, Dennis Edney earlier stated that the decision shows the US, “When they come to the court, they are supposed to come with clean hands, meaning that the evidence they are relying on to extradite that person is legal, it’s not evidence that has been relied on through torture and abuse.” The Canadian government argues that the torture used to obtain evidence was not directly relevant to the extradition decision.

Edney expressed no surprise at the appeal, telling Postmedia News “The government has been consistent in appealing each and every strong ruling by the federal courts in both the Abdullah Khadr and Omar Khadr cases, only to be overruled once again at the Supreme Court level, and all at the expense of the public purse.”

The role of public apathy and encouragement of the US in these appeals has been well revealed in the US State cables released by Wikileaks. Regarding Abdullah’s brother Omar the cables said “There would be virtually no political blowback domestically for the Conservative Party if the government chooses to pursue an appeal, making this a strong likelihood.”

Previous WL Central coverage of Abdullah Khadr and his brother Omar Khadr.

2011-05-21 Updates from defense attorney Dennis Edney regarding Moazzam Begg flight refusal, Abdullah Khadr and the Toronto 18 trials

Canadian defense attorney Dennis Edney is involved in four of the cases we are currently covering. WL Central has received updates from him on three of them.

Moazzam Begg, a high profile advocate for Guantanamo inmates and international lecturer and author, was denied board on a direct Air Canada flight from London to Toronto on the grounds that the plane could possibly be diverted to the US where Begg is on a no-fly list. Begg, a British citizen, was imprisoned in Guantanamo for three years and released in 2005 with no charge. Edney had invited him to Canada to speak.

You were attempting to get him a flight over the north pole to avoid the excuse of a possible diversion into US air space – has there been any response from the Canadian authorities on that?

We have attempted to get clarification from Canadian authorities to state whether they would challenge his entry if he took a flight over Greenland so no fear of being close to U.S. airspace – with no clarification.

Who exactly have you spoken to in the Canadian government or Air Canada regarding this policy?

We have spoken to people at the Canadian High Commission and I have asked Moazzam to go to the London office to get an official response why he was not allowed to fly.

He was to attend 3 conferences in Toronto/ Montreal and Edmonton.

Abdullah Khadr, older brother of Omar, won against the Canadian government’s appeal on May 6. The Canadian government was arguing in support of the US government who are trying to extradite Abdullah based on testimony obtained under torture. Edney represents both Khadrs.

Has there been any word on whether the federal government will be taking this case to the Supreme Court? Has the Canadian government brought charges against Abdullah on their own or indicated whether they have plans to?

No. They have 60 days to appeal.

Mubin Shaikh, Crown star witness who testified in the Toronto 18 trials, was included on a list of names provided to the US as being associated with terrorism according to a recently released US state cable from Wikileaks. “It was his evidence that took them all down,” Edney told CBC. “Most of the warrants for wiretaps that were obtained were obtained as a result of conversations he had with the suspects.” Edney represents Fahim Ahmad, one of the Toronto 18 currently serving a prison sentence.

What are the legal implications of his submission as a terrorism suspect to the US? Does this damage his credibility as a key Crown witness, and if so, what are the possible consequences for the verdicts relying on his testimony? Will you be filing a complaint for the defense in this case?

There are many questions arises from a CSIS agent who was provided to the RCMP as a central witness against the Toronto 18 when they viewed him as so undeniable to warn the U.S. about him.

The prosecution had the obligation to provide the defense of this concern. I will be asking for the information provided to the US to determine to what extent if at all it would impact on any appeal.

2011-05-06 Abdullah Khadr wins extradition appeal

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In December 2005, Abdullah Khadr, older brother of Omar, Abdurahman and Abdul Karim Khadr and younger brother of Zaynab, returned to his home in Toronto, Canada after fourteen months of being held in a Pakistan prison without charges. One week later he was arrested in Canada and held without bail, pending extradition to the US. The US had earlier obtained information from the Taliban which suggested to them Abdullah may have been the suicide bomber who killed a Canadian soldier in Kabul in January 2004. In an interview with CBC News on Feb. 25, 2004, Abdullah Khadr said, “If I was the suicide bomber, I wouldn’t be doing this interview with you right now.”

This time he was indicted in the US on charges of supplying weapons to Al Qaeda in Pakistan. In August 2006, Khadr’s lawyer Dennis Edney filed an application to stay the extradition proceedings, arguing that the US government’s evidence against Khadr was inadmissible because it relied on information gathered under torture in Pakistan. Khadr was held in a detention centre for the next five years until his release last August when the stay was granted and the presiding judge called his treatment “both shocking and unjustifiable.”

The Attorney General of Canada brought the case to the Court of Appeal in April, arguing that the lower court judge did not properly balance the benefits of Khadr’s release with the seriousness of the charges. Today, Ontario’s Court of Appeal (the highest court in Ontario) agreed unanimously with the lower court’s decision and answered the appeal with a 33 page decision. The decision stated that to allow the extradition would amount to the Canadian courts being complacent with the torture.

“We must adhere to our democratic and legal values, even if that adherence serves in the short term to benefit those who oppose and seek to destroy those values, for if we do not, in the longer term, the enemies of democracy and the rule of law will have succeeded. They will have demonstrated that our faith in our legal order is unable to withstand their threats. … It surely can come as no surprise that in a country like Pakistan with a constitution guaranteeing fundamental rights and freedoms, it is illegal to accept a bounty or bribe from a foreign government, to abduct a foreign national from the street, to beat that individual until he agrees to co-operate, to deny him consular access, to hold him in a secret detention centre for eight months while his utility as an intelligence source is exhausted, and then to continue to hold him in secret detention for six more months at the request of a foreign power,” said the decision. They also pointed out that refusing the extradition does not prevent the Attorney General from bringing the case before Canadian courts.

Khadr’s father, a Canadian named Ahmed Said Khadr who ran orphanages and other charities in Pakistan and Afghanistan, was a friend of Osama Bin Laden and his family has been under constant threat from the US government. His brother Omar was tortured by the US military and kept in prison as a possible source of intelligence since he was 15 years old. He remains in Guantanamo today, now 24 years old.

Abdullah was abducted by Pakistani intelligence, who were paid a $500,000 bounty by the US government for him. (The Globe and Mail had to take the Canadian government to court in 2008 to be able to publish information about the bounty. The Canadian government held that publication would “threaten national security.”) He was beaten and denied access to Canadian consular services, and held for fourteen months without charges while being interrogated by Pakistani, Canadian and US authorities. US authorities requested that Canadian intelligence not push for consular access. Pakistani authorities told Canadian authorities in June 2005 that Khadr would be released without charges, but US intelligence persuaded Pakistan to continue to hold him until December while the FBI interrogated him and arranged for his extradition to the US from Canada.

Khadr’s lawyer, Dennis Edney, said his newly married client is looking forward to getting on with his life, and the decision shows the US, “When they come to the court, they are supposed to come with clean hands, meaning that the evidence they are relying on to extradite that person is legal, it’s not evidence that has been relied on through torture and abuse.”

The federal government has 60 days to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. In an earlierinterview with Dennis Edney, he told WL Central that he was very tired after eight years of fighting the Canadian government, but he had no choice but to continue. The US State cable #09OTTAWA629 discussing the case of Abdullah’s brother Omar shows that he was fighting more than the Canadian government:

“In a discussion with CDA on the eve of the decision, a senior official of the Prime Minister’s Office predicted that the government would appeal to the Supreme Court if it lost at the appellate level. According to an official of the Privy Council Office on August 14, the government was still trying to “digest” the decision, but he took note our informal request for the government to consult privately with us before making public any possible request for repatriation. [bolding added] …. Comment: The vigorous dissent opinion should give the government some hope that an appeal to the Supreme Court could be successful, and could — not incidentally — also at least delay action until the next steps become clearer in the legal procedures against Mr. Khadr by the U.S. military authorities. Mr. Khadr’s family remains deeply unpopular in Canada, although there is some sympathy for him since he was only 15 years old at the time of his capture. There would be virtually no political blowback domestically for the Conservative Party if the government chooses to pursue an appeal, making this a strong likelihood.