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Leaked Cable shows France intervened on Omar Khadr

Help us understand why!

by Tim Groves

Khadr being interrogated (CC)
Khadr being interrogated (CC)

In a meeting in February 2009, the French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, asked Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, to review the case of a Canadian detained in Guantanamo Bay, Omar Khadr, according to a secret file released yesterday by the whistle blowing website Wikileaks. 

[UPDATE: Most of the information in the secret file was in fact known before the document was released, to understand more of France's motivations view the first comment to this post]
 
The Toronto Media Co-op is calling on our readers to help understand why France spoke to Clinton about this specific case. If you have any information or perspective please add them in the comments section. What was France's interest in Khadr?
 
"In GTMO [Guantanamo Bay], the FM [Foreign Minister] indicated Europe would help on a case-by-case basis, and asked the U.S. for assistance with a 15-year old Canadian national, Omar Khadr", states the document. It later explains that while talking about detainees in Guantanamo "the FM [foreign minister] handed the Secretary [Clinton] a paper concerning Omar Khadr, a 15-year old 
Muslim of Canadian origin. The Secretary agreed to review the case."
 
Khadr was arrested as a teenager in Afghanistan, after surviving a fire fight. He held as an enemy combatant in Guantanamo Bay since 2002. He recently pleaded guilty to five charges that were laid against him, including murder. 
 
The meeting between Clinton and  Kouchner took place at a time when the Obama administration had promised to close the infamous detention centre located in a US military base, a promise that has since been reversed. 
 
The leaked document shows the meeting covered many topics including Afghanistan, Darfur, Iran, Russia/Georgia/Energy, the Balkans and Guantanamo. The full text of the Section on Guantanamo reads as follows:
----------- 
GUANTANAMO 
----------- 
 
¶8. (C) The Secretary expressed appreciation for French leadership within the EU on this issue. She said she was proud of President Obama's commitment to close the facility, calling it "a cancer" the U.S. wanted to take care of, but would take time. She said this was complicated, so we were asking friends and allies to consider taking some detainees. FM Kouchner said the EU 27 had not yet reached consensus, but that they "accepted the idea," but would consider detainees on a case-by-case basis; Europeans do not want to create legal problems for themselves. They were working with three categories of individuals. First were "the best cases." Second, were those who had made individual requests for resettlement in specific countries and third without legal problems. There were many outstanding questions, such as whether they had refugee status, but because of the Schengen visa requirements, it was necessary for the EU to address this together. At the end of this discussion, the FM handed the Secretary a paper concerning Omar Khadr, a 15-year old Muslim of Canadian origin. The Secretary agreed to 
review the case. 
 
To read the entire document visit:
 
If you have any information, perspectives, or context you can share on what France's interest in Khadr is, please add them in the comments below or send the author a message.
 

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Comments

France raised issues around Khadr being a child soldier

 

I was contacted with an update about this story. The information that france had raised the issue of Khadr was known shortly after the meeting. Here is part of the text of a communique by France republished by Macleans in Feb 2009.  

 

Mr. Kouchner also drew Ms. Clinton’s attention to the case of Omar Khadr, the Canadian child who, as you know, was enrolled by al-Qaeda as a pre-teen. We wanted to draw the attention of the American and Canadian authorities to his case.

http://www.ambafrance-us.org/spip.php?article989

 

This largely explains what motivated France to raise this issue, although it is curious that France intervened and it is still worth asking if there were other motives at play.

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