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No ‘Lord of the Rings’ for detainee at Gitmo

/ Source: The Associated Press

Guards have confiscated a "Lord of the Rings" movie screenplay from a former child soldier awaiting trial at Guantanamo, his lawyer and U.S. officials said Thursday.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler, the military-appointed attorney for Canadian Omar Khadr, told reporters he gave the detainee the script to build trust.

In addition to seizing the screenplay, the military said he could no longer play dominos and chess during visits with Khadr, who was 15 when he was captured by the U.S. military in 2002.

Kuebler said the games and the screenplay are essential to his ability to defend his client: "There is an enormous challenge to building a rapport."

Khadr faces a war crimes trial later this year. He is charged in the death of U.S. special forces soldier, Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, from Fort Bragg, N.C. Speer died from a grenade during a firefight at an isolated compound near Khost, Afghanistan.

If convicted, Khadr faces life in prison.

Guantanamo officials issued a statement that guards found the screenplay along with other unapproved items, including news articles from the Internet, mixed with legal papers that the prisoner was allowed to keep.

"The Lord of the Rings screenplay has been returned to ... Kuebler as a violation of the prohibition against providing detainees materials that are not directly related to his representation of his client," the military said.

"This issue would not have arisen had counsel not provided materials to the detainee that were not related to the defense of his military commission case."

A spokesman for the detention center, Army Lt. Col. Ed Bush, said all three installments of the book version of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy are available to prisoners.

It was not clear why Khadr, now 21, wanted the screenplay. Some detainees have complained through their lawyers about long waits for books from Guantanamo's library.

"He wants nothing more in life than to see Lord of the Rings," his attorney said.

The U.S. holds about 275 men at Guantanamo on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida and the Taliban and has said it plans to prosecute about 80 before a special war crimes tribunal. The military has proposed starting Khadr's trial on June 1, but his lawyers are expected to seek a delay at a hearing Friday.