Skip to main content

Former military translator Malgarai Ahmadshah speaks reporters after testifying at a special committee meeting on the Canadian mission in Afghanistan in Ottawa on April 14, 2010.BLAIR GABLE/Reuters

A Canadian diplomat is denying an allegation by a former military interpreter that he transferred a prisoner to Afghanistan's notorious intelligence service even after it proposed executing the detainee.

Ed Jager, a Foreign Affairs officer, featured prominently in troubling allegations leveled by a former military translator last month.

Ahmadshah Malgarai, whose former Canadian Forces codename was "Pasha," told MPs in April that he was present in the summer of 2007 when a colonel with Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security refused to take an ill captive and suggested shooting him instead.

Mr. Malgarai said Mr. Jager was there when this happened. But Mr. Jager told the Military Police Complaints Commission Wednesday he doesn't recall such an incident.

"No ... I can say so categorically," he told the commission hearings, which are probing allegations that Canadian soldiers knowingly handed over Afghan captives to torture at the hands of local interrogators.

Mr. Jager, who served as a political adviser in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008, is now posted to Brazil and was flown back by Foreign Affairs to attend the commission hearings.

It's the second significant allegation made by Mr. Malgarai that the Canadian government has rejected. Last month Canada's top soldier, Chief of the Defence Staff General Walter Natynczyk, denied the ex-interpreter's charge the military shot an unarmed teen in the back of the head during a raid.

Mr. Malgarai told MPs last month the proposal to kill a detainee emerged after the NDS refused to take the prisoner because he was ill. Canada transferred the prisoner anyway, he alleged.

"During the meeting, disagreement broke out. Colonel Yassin said that NDS would not accept a sick detainee," the ex-interpreter said in April.

"When the Canadians insisted, Colonel Yassin removed his pistol, put it on the table, and said: 'Here is my gun. Go shoot him. Give me the body and I will justify it for you'."

Mr. Malgarai had told MPs he translated the proposal to murder the detainee.

"When Colonel Yassin made the death threat, Ed Jager immediately said 'I will pretend you did not say [that] and I did not hear it'," the ex-interpreter said in April.

Mr. Jager said he encountered Col. Yassin during transfers many times but never saw him carrying a weapon. He said the Afghan wore a local dress "which is referred to somewhat derogatively as man pajamas: we're talking very loose flowing clothes."

It would be very difficult for the NDS colonel to hide a weapon in such clothes, Mr. Jager said.

The diplomat also denied two other allegations made by Mr. Malgarai: that a detainee was handed over while ill and that one had begged not to be transferred because he feared torture.

Mr. Malgarai also testified that in the fall of 2007 a detainee named Atta Mohamad Azckzai had pleaded in front of Mr. Jager and Colonel Yassin to be killed rather than transferred.

"Please put one bullet in my head. Do that instead of transferring me," Mr. Azckai pleaded as he lowered his head to the ground, the ex-interpreter said.

Colonel Yassin responded: "When [the detainee]gets to my room, he will speak."

This, Mr. Malgarai told MPs last month, "was a clear threat to abuse" the detainee.

Mr. Jager Wednesday told the complaints commission that he never saw emotional outbursts by detainees or warnings they'd be abused.

"There wasn't a single one who resisted or made any physical sort of demonstration," Mr. Jager said. "The vast majority of them went rather docilely and quietly, frankly."

He said no detainee ever voiced fears of torture. "Or if they did it wasn't translated that way for me."

Occasionally, he said, a detainee would say through a translator something like: "I am innocent, please ... let me go'."

Mr. Jager said he politely refused in these cases. "My response to them was always the same: 'I am sorry, there is very little I can do to help you at this point."