No Comment — October 27, 2009, 11:00 am

Details of CIA Snatch Effort Unfold in a Canadian Courtroom

Abdullah Khadr is the brother of Omar Khadr, a Canadian who was seized at the age of 15 following a firefight in an Afghanistani village near Tora Bora and spirited away to Guantánamo. Omar’s case has stirred international controversy about the conditions and treatment of child prisoners by the United States, and U.S. authorities long sought Abdullah to help make their case against his brother, among other things. The CIA tracked Abdullah down and paid the Pakistani Interservice Intelligence (ISI) $500,000 for his capture and surrender to an undisclosed third-country detention site (potentially Guantánamo), but both the Canadian and Pakistani authorities balked at this. Instead, Abdullah got a trip home to Canada. Everyone apparently wanted to charge Abdullah, but no one seems to have had any evidence—until suddenly Abdullah began to confess.

Now a judge in a Toronto courtroom is focusing on the circumstances that led to Abdullah’s sudden stream of confessions. Was he tortured or mistreated? The Star reports:

Only the judge and lawyers could see “John” behind a large screen in a Toronto courtroom. The Canadian spy entered through a separate entrance each day last week and a “Do Not Enter. Sealed by Judge’s Order” sign hung on the door as he took his place on the hidden witness stand. While his identity may have been shielded, the agent’s testimony in the extradition case of Abdullah Khadr gave an unprecedented glimpse into the covert world of international terrorism cases.

Previously, intelligence agents were rarely called as witnesses and forced to give testimony. But since the disclosures of torture and abuse associated with the program at Guantánamo, and the revelation of Canadian intelligence’s complicity in the torture and abuse of a Canadian software engineer, Maher Arar, in the hands of U.S. Justice Department officials, Canadian courts now insist on putting the details of the intelligence service’s dealings on the record—especially when U.S. intelligence counterparts are involved. This may be a sign of what the future holds for the CIA, and it may help explain why the CIA is now struggling with such determination to keep the wraps on its extraordinary rendition and torture programs.

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