By  ~ Toronto Sun

TORONTO - Lawyers for former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr need to tighten up their argument that he was a victim of a conspiracy between Canadian and U.S. officials shortly after his capture in 2002, a Federal Court judge says.

Army Medic Christopher Speer
Justice Richard Mosley said Wednesday that Khadr’s lawyer, John Kingman Phillips, needs to “sharpen (his) pencil” when it comes to allegations in an amended lawsuit claiming there was a conspiracy to prosecute Khadr and that Canadian investigators who went to Guantanamo to interview him were aware that Khadr’s rights — such as his access to a lawyer, the right to remain silent, and the “rights of a child” — were being violated after his arrest.

The proceedings are part of a lawsuit that has recently doubled to $20 million because Khadr alleges the Canadian government conspired with the Americans and is responsible for what he calls his unlawful treatment.

“It is evident to me ... the predominant purpose was the imprisonment of Omar Khadr,” Phillips told the court. “To ensure that he remained in custody of U.S. or Canadian officials.”

Omar Khadr
Photo of him at age 15
Phillips also made extensive reference to documents where the identities of Canadian enforcement officials who entered into discussions with their U.S. counterparts around access to Khadr had been redacted — and therefore left unknown.

“Mr. Khadr was never aware...(and) his lawyers were never aware (that) he was a target,” said Phillips, who insisted “Canada was furthering its own objective of prosecuting (Khadr)” and that the Canadian officials who went down to interview him viewed him “as an accused for the purposes ... of prosecution.”

Lawyers for Canada’s government said the conspiracy allegations lacked “particulars” and not enough detail to prove a co-conspiracy on the part of Canadian officials. As well, they argued it was not up to a Canadian court to judge the conduct of American security officials at Guantanamo.

Outside court, Phillips said he’ll tighten up his argument and deliver it to the government’s lawyers for review before presenting it in court again.

“What we have to prove is that Canada and the U.S. agreed on a common objective and used ... unlawful means to injure or damage Omar,” Phillips said.

Present-day Omar
Khadr — who was 15 at the time — was captured in Afghanistan following a July 27, 2002 firefight with coalition troops that fatally wounded U.S. soldier Christopher Speer.

The Americans handed Khadr an eight-year sentence in 2010, with the chance to return to Canada, for pleading guilty to war crimes, including Speer’s murder.

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