Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Canada’s most-awarded
newsroom for a reason
Stay informed for a
lot less, cancel anytime
“Exemplary reporting on
COVID-19” – Herman L
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Omar Khadr, photographed in 2009.

Omar Khadr is willing to have his military-appointed U.S. lawyer defend him in court after all, his Canadian lawyer now says.

Calling the military commission a "sham process," Mr. Khadr had tried to fire all his American lawyers last week - including military-appointed counsel Lieutenant-Colonel Jon Jackson.

Military judge Colonel Patrick Parrish would not let him, and directed Lt.-Col. Jackson to consult his professional bodies, including the Arkansas bar, as to his obligations regarding Mr. Khadr's defence.

Story continues below advertisement

Lt-Col. Jackson's answer? Not only will he continue representing Mr. Khadr, but says he is "ethically required" to do so.

"Therefore, I intend to provide him with a zealous defence at his trial in August," he said this weekend.

"Omar Khadr continues to be the victim in this case. I never envisioned a scenario in my career as an Army lawyer that would require me to defend a child-soldier against war crimes charges levied by the United States. I always believed we were better than that."

And for now, says Dennis Edney, one of Mr. Khadr's Canadian lawyers, he is willing to have a U.S. military lawyer act on his behalf.

This means a defence motion will proceed on Aug. 9, over the question of whether prosecution evidence against Mr. Khadr was obtained through torture and coercion.

Mr. Khadr , now 23, is the only Canadian held at the U.S. military detention centre for suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He has been in U.S. custody since age 15, when he was arrested in Afghanistan in 2002 and accused of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier during a firefight.

A psychiatrist and psychologist for the defence conducted assessments that found Mr. Khadr was traumatized; testimony from his interrogators in May revealed Mr. Khadr had been threatened with gang rape to induce his co-operation.

Story continues below advertisement

Jury selection and a trial are expected to continue immediately after the pre-trial hearing.

If Lt.-Col. Jackson had decided differently and that suppression motion not gone forward, it could have ended one of Mr. Khadr's best defences.

Mr. Khadr's recent actions raise questions regarding the rules of the ad hoc military tribunals being used for suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, who often have little faith in the system they see as fundamentally unjust.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Frakt has been there before: He has had to navigate Gitmo's tribunals as military lawyer for an associate of Osama bin Laden who spread al-Qaeda's message and for an Afghan teenager who was acquitted. He was also the lawyer Lt.-Col. Jackson turned to for advice on how to proceed in Mr. Khadr's case.

As lawyer for Ali Hamza al-Bahlul, the al-Qaeda spokesman, Lt-Col. Frakt was told in no uncertain terms that his client wanted him out of the picture. So he stayed out. Mr. al-Bahlul has since been convicted and is serving a life sentence in Guantanamo.

But in the case of Mohammed Jawad, accused of throwing a grenade at a U.S. convoy as an Afghan teenager, Major Frakt insisted on representing the profoundly depressed, suicidal detainee - and won him a repatriation after his case was dismissed.

Story continues below advertisement

Lt.-Col. Jackson's conclusion didn't come from a bar association or military directive, Lt-Col. Frakt said.

Lawyers are left "to sort of fend for themselves on these things," he said.

The colleagues had a lengthy discussion about the issue.

"In these situations there's two concerns a lawyer has," Lt-Col. Frakt said. "One is, 'How do I represent the client and carry out the client's wishes?' And, two, 'How do I not lose my licence to practice law?' … There's an added layer of complexity in these cases because the court is ordering Jackson to represent [Mr. Khadr] but what does that really mean?"

In this case, Lt-Col. Frakt said, Mr. Khadr needs an active defence. To make no defence arguments or insist on representing himself would have been "basically a recipe for getting convicted on all counts and getting a very lengthy sentence," Major Frakt said.

"Al-Bahlul was willing to sacrifice himself for what he saw as a greater cause. And Khadr, from my understanding he's not a jihadist, he's not a martyr. He's just a scared, angry kid that wants to go home."

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies