Sat, Jul 19, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Canadian diplomat denies endorsing Gitmo abuse

AP , TORONTO

A former Canadian diplomat who was present at the interrogation of a then-teenage detainee at Guantanamo Bay said he feels demonized for his fact-finding visits after footage of the interview session was released earlier this week.

Jim Gould is one of the few Canadians who have seen Omar Khadr, now 21, since his capture by US forces after a four-hour firefight in Afghanistan six years ago. He said the Department of Foreign Affairs never endorsed abuse of Omar Khadr.

“We certainly never would have asked them to do anything to him,’’ Gould said. “That’s appalling. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I thought that was the case.”

Khadr’s lawyers released video footage on Tuesday of Khadr sobbing for his mother and pleading for Canada’s help while being interrogated by Canadian officials in 2003. At one point he pleads for medical help for chest and back wounds he says have not healed six months after his capture.

He tells his interrogators about torture and abuse he says he faced at the hands of US officials.

Khadr is accused of throwing a hand grenade that killed a US medic, and is to be tried before a US military commission in October.

Gould visited Khadr twice at Guantanamo Bay — once in February of 2003 and again in April 2004. It was the only way to get first-hand information about the teenager’s mental and physical condition and had no intelligence purpose, he said.

Gould can be seen in the video at one point adjusting the air conditioner in Khadr’s cell.

“This is now being described as torture because we were changing the temperatures — making it freezing cold or burning hot,” he said. “Well, we were uncomfortable or the kid was uncomfortable. That was what that was.”

He said Khadr never showed any obvious signs of mistreatment, so it was reasonable to assume the US guards were treating the captive well.

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