Omar Khadr
Janet Hamlin  /  AP
Omar Khadr, left, attends his war crimes trial in the courthouse for the U.S. military war crimes commission at the Camp Justice compound on Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba, Thursday.
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updated 8/13/2010 1:46:15 PM ET 2010-08-13T17:46:15

The war-crimes trial of a young Canadian detainee was halted Friday due to the illness of his attorney, who was to be flown to the United States for treatment after collapsing in the courtroom.

The trial will be on hold for at least 30 days while the only lawyer for Omar Khadr is treated for complications from recent gall bladder surgery, said Bryan Broyles, the deputy chief defense counsel for the military trials at Guantanamo Bay. Army Lt. Col. Jon Jackson was taken from court by ambulance Thursday, ending the session.

The delay threatens to bring further disarray to a case that has been held up for more than four years by legal challenges and changes to the offshore system for prosecuting alleged terrorists. The trial, which was expected to take about a month, is the first at Guantanamo under President Barack Obama.

Broyles said he expects the same jury will later pick up the case and Jackson intends to stay on as Khadr's Pentagon-appointed attorney.

"For Lt. Col. Jackson, that is his only concern right now, probably to the detriment of his health," Broyles told reporters at a news conference inside a hangar at this U.S. Navy base in Cuba.

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Khadr is only the third detainee to go on trial at the prison that opened in 2002 and has held nearly 800 detainees, mostly suspected militants captured in and around Afghanistan. Obama has struggled to fulfill a pledge to close the prison and is considering dozens of detainees for prosecution by the Guantanamo tribunals.

Jackson is the only attorney authorized to speak for Khadr, who fired two civilian American attorneys during pretrial hearings. Jackson joked earlier this week during jury selection that he is an "army of one."

He fainted Thursday while questioning a retired Special Forces soldier who testified that he shot Khadr twice in the back during a firefight at an al-Qaida compound in Afghanistan.

Khadr, who was 15 when he was captured in 2002, is accused of killing a U.S. soldier with a grenade during the battle. He has pleaded not guilty to five charges including murder, conspiracy and spying. He faces a maximum life sentence if convicted.

Khadr, now 23, is the youngest of the 176 detainees at Guantanamo and the only remaining Westerner.

Defense attorneys say the Toronto-born detainee was pushed into war by his father, Ahmed Said Khadr, an alleged al-Qaida financier whose family stayed with Osama bin Laden briefly when Omar Khadr was a boy.

The Egyptian-born father was killed in 2003 when a Pakistani military helicopter shelled the house where he was staying with senior al-Qaida operatives.

Khadr's jury is made up of seven U.S. military officers who were flown to Guantanamo from bases around the world.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Guantanamo's limbo

Photos: Guantanamo Bay detention center

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  1. A U.S. military guard arrives for work at Camp Delta in the Guantanamo Bay detention center on March 30, 2010. Two days after his inauguration in January 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order to close the facility in one year and review each detainee’s case individually, but he has missed the deadline by months and has struggled to transfer, try or release the remaining detainees. (These pictures have been reviewed by the U.S. military.) (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Detainees prepare to eat lunch at Camp 6 in the Guantanamo Bay detention center on March 30, 2010. The U.S. military currently holds 183 detainees at Guantanamo, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The detention center has held nearly 780 detainees in an assortment of camps that were built to accommodate different levels of security. In Camp 6, detainees spend at least 22 hours a day in single-occupancy cells. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. In this picture, a detainee stands in Guantanamo’s Camp 6, his face obscured by a wire fence. There are strict rules on the publication of photographs of detainees – any distinguishing features or clear pictures of detainees’ faces are not allowed past Guantanamo’s gates. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A detainee reads a magazine in the library at Camp 6. One of the obstacles President Obama faces in shutting down the detention facility is that Congress has blocked funding for a plan that would transfer some detainees to a prison in the United States. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. The Department of Justice is currently reviewing each detainee’s case individually and categorizing them into three groups: those who face trial, those who will be transferred to detention facilities in other countries, and those who are deemed a danger but cannot released or tried because of sensitive evidence – and must continue to be held. There are 48 detainees in this category. Here, detainees prepare to eat lunch at Camp 6. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. In this photo, a detainee attends a class in "life skills" inside Camp 6. In November 2009, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Sept. 11 suspects would be prosecuted in a federal court in New York City, setting off a heated debate that put the White House on the defense and has forced it to reconsider the plan. The Obama administration has also designated six detainees for trial by military tribunal, including Canadian Omar Khadr, whose trial will be the first at Guantanamo during the Obama presidency. (Brennan Linsley / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. A U.S. Navy guard prepares to escort a detainee after a "life skills" class in Camp 6. Meantime, the war crimes tribunal convened in Guantanamo on April 28, 2010, to decide what evidence can be used against Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who was just 15 when he was detained in Afghanistan in 2002. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Congressional Republicans and some Democrats oppose the plan to prosecute detainees in federal courts because that would give suspects full U.S. legal rights and could lead to the release of dangerous terrorists. Supporters, however, say military courts unfairly limit defendants’ rights and contend that federal courts are just as capable of bringing suspects to justice. In this photo, U.S. Army guards are briefed at the Guantanamo Bay detention center on March 30, 2010. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. A U.S. Army soldier patrols past a guard tower at Camp Delta. A final difficulty in closing the detention facility is skepticism about how well some countries would monitor and rehabilitate detainees transferred there – and whether they would be at risk of being recruited into terror networks. Yemen, in particular, is under scrutiny after the failed Christmas Day airplane bombing by Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is believed to have been trained by al-Qaida in Yemen. The Obama administration has since suspended all transfers to Yemen. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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