Guantanamo: ‘Shame on the West
23rd September 2008
An unprecedented glimpse into the harsh conditions at Guantanamo Bay has emerged via a grainy video of a weeping Canadian teenager undergoing interrogation after he had been tortured by sleep deprivation for three weeks.
The longest portion of video, an eight-minute segment, shows a sobbing Omar Khadr, just past his 16th birthday, burying his head in his hands and moaning “help me, help me” as Canadian intelligence agents look on.
Over the course of a three-day interrogation Mr Khadr denied any association with al-Qa’ida and showed the agents wounds that he suffered on the battlefield from which he almost died.
The footage, taken by a camera hidden behind a ventilation shaft, and obtained under court order by Mr Khadr’s Canadian lawyers, is the first video of a Guantanamo interrogation to become public. The interrogation took place in February 2003, six months after Mr Khadr’s capture by US forces on an Afghan battlefield.
The US says he killed a soldier with a grenade and injured another at an al-Qa’ida compound but efforts to persuade military courts that he is an “enemy combatant” were thrown out last year.
Mr Khadr’s mistreatment began after his arrival at Guantanamo when he was denied sleep and forced to move cell every few hours over a period of three weeks – a process the US military refers to as its “frequent flyer programme” – to soften him up for interrogation by Canadian intelligence agents.
But, before the rage and tears, came trust. The teenager thought his fellow Canadians had come to help him and he answered their questions freely.