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Canada document puts U.S. on torture list

A Canadian Foreign Affairs Department document released Friday includes the United States and Israel as countries where prisoners are at risk of being tortured and abused.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A Canadian Foreign Affairs Department document includes the United States and Israel in a series of countries where prisoners are at risk of being tortured and abused, according to the document released Friday.

The training manual for Canadian diplomats also includes Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Syria as places where inmates could face torture.

The manual lists such U.S. interrogation techniques as stripping prisoners naked, blindfolding them and sleep depravation as torture, and names Guantanamo Bay as a site of possible torture and abuse. Canada said the manual is for training and does not amount to official government policy.

A Canadian citizen, Omar Khadr, is in custody at Guantanamo, but Canada has long publicly said it accepts U.S. assurances that Khadr is being treated humanely.

One of Khadr's lawyers, Dennis Edney, said the document shows Canada says one thing publicly but believes something else privately.

"Canada was well aware that Omar Khadr's allegations of being tortured had a ring of truth to it. Canada has not once raised the protection of Omar Khadr when there are such serious allegations," Edney said. "What does that say to you about Canada's commitment to the rule of law and human rights. It talks on both sides of its face."

Manual inadvertently released
The government inadvertently released the manual to lawyers for Amnesty International who are working on a lawsuit involving alleged abuse of Afghan detainees by local Afghan authorities, after the detainees were handed over by Canadian troops.

"The document in question is a training manual. It is not a policy document or any kind of a statement of policy. As such it does not convey the government's views or positions," said Neil Hrab, a spokesman for Canada's Foreign Affairs Department. "The training manual purposely raised public issues to stimulate discussion and debate in the classroom."

A call to the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa seeking comment was not immediately returned Friday. A spokesman at the Israeli embassy said Israel forbids torture.

"Israel's Supreme Court is on record as expressly prohibiting any type of torture. If Israel is included in the list in question, the ambassador of Israel would expect its removal," spokesman Michael Mendel said.

The training material in question offers a section on laws prohibiting torture and what to do when cases are suspected. It also discusses how to spot signs a Canadian abroad has been abused.

Canada asked to pressure U.S.
Human rights groups have long called on Canada to pressure the United States to return Khadr from Guantanamo. They say not done enough for Omar Khadr, who has been in custody since he was 15. Khadr is accused of tossing a grenade that killed one U.S. soldier and injured another in Afghanistan in 2002.

He is the son of an alleged al-Qaida financier, and his family has received little sympathy in Canada, where they've been called the "First Family of Terrorism."

In a documentary by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., one of Khadr's brothers, Abdurahman Khadr, acknowledged that their Egyptian-born father, Ahmed Said Khadr, and some of his brothers fought for al-Qaida and had stayed with Osama bin Laden.

The father was killed in Pakistan in 2003 when a Pakistani military helicopter shelled the house where he was staying with some senior al-Qaida operatives. One brother, Abdullah Khadr, is being held in Canada on a U.S. extradition warrant, accused of supplying weapons to al-Qaida.