Guantánamo video shows interrogation of sobbing Canadian youth
The first footage showing an interrogation at Guantánamo Bay was released today by the lawyers of Omar Khadr, a Canadian teenager detained by US forces.
The video shows Khadr, at the time aged 16, interviewed by intelligence agents in 2003. During the footage he sobs uncontrollably, removes his shirt to complain about his medical treatment and tells the agents: "You don't care about me."
Left alone in the interrogation room, Khadr cries, holds his head and rocks back and forth. The audio is not clear, but he reportedly repeats the phrase "help me".
The video, at times distressing, is the first footage from inside an interrogation room at the controversial US detention camp to be made public.
Khadr, the son of Ahmed Said Khadr, who had ties to al-Qaida's elite, was captured in July 2002 in Afghanistan when he was just 15. Now 21, he remains in Guantánamo Bay along with around 270 so-called "enemy combatants".
The Pentagon forbids public release of photographs or recordings of the US detention camp and the Canadian government had declined requests by Khadr's lawyers, Nathan Whitling and Dennis Edney, to view the video footage.
But in May, Khadr's legal team won a US supreme court ruling for disclosure of footage - in total lasting several hours - as well as previously classified documents relating to his case.
The edited clip video released today shows Khadr interrogated by a Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) agent, a Canadian foreign affairs official Jim Gould, and an unidentified female CIA official - their faces have been blacked out.
The full-length videos, understood to have been recorded from a camera hidden in a ventilation shaft, is expected to be posted online later today.
The video clip opens with Khadr removing the top half of his orange jumpsuit to show his interrogators his injuries resulting from two bullet wounds. He says: "You say this is healthy? I can't move my arm."
The CSIS agent replies: "They look like they're healing well to me. You know, I'm not a doctor but I think you're getting good medical care." Khadr replies: "No I'm not. You're not here."
After Khadr complains further, the agent states: "I understand this is stressful, but by using this as a strategy to talk to us - it's not going to be any more helpful. I mean we've got a limited about of time and, you know, we've heard this story before."
Responding to complaints from Khadr that his interrogators "don't care" about him, the CSIS agent replies: "Well, I do care about you, but I want to talk to the honest Omar I talked to yesterday."
At times Khadr appears confused and despondent, and repeatedly breaks down. In another exchange, the agent says: "You want to go back to Canada? Well, there's not anything I can do about that."
Dennis Edney told the Toronto Star: "I hope Canadians will be outraged to see the callous and disgraceful treatment of a Canadian youth. Canadians should demand to know why they've been lied to."
The video follows documents released last week that revealed senior Canadian officials were aware that Khadr had been subjected to weeks of sleep deprivation, even though they stated publicly that the teenager had been treated humanely. For three weeks, Khadr had been made to move to a new cell every three hours, the documents revealed.
Gould, who has said he was only present during the interrogation to assess Khadr' s wellbeing, reported to Canada's foreign affairs department that Khadr was "a thoroughly screwed up young man".
"All those persons who have been in positions of authority over him have abused him and his trust, for their own purposes," Gould said.
Khadr, who the US accuses of killing a soldier with a grenade, is set to face a military trial later this year for five war crimes. Amnesty International has described him as the first person to be put on trial anywhere in the world for war crimes allegedly committed when he was a juvenile.