Canadian says U.S. interrogators threatened rape

MIAMI Thu Mar 20, 2008 7:35am EDT

Omar Khadr is seen in this undated family portrait. Khadr, a young Canadian prisoner held at Guantanamo, said in legal documents that U.S. interrogators repeatedly threatened to rape him and Canadian government visitors told him they were powerless to do anything. REUTERS/Handout/Files

Omar Khadr is seen in this undated family portrait. Khadr, a young Canadian prisoner held at Guantanamo, said in legal documents that U.S. interrogators repeatedly threatened to rape him and Canadian government visitors told him they were powerless to do anything.

Credit: Reuters/Handout/Files

MIAMI (Reuters) - A young Canadian prisoner held at Guantanamo said in legal documents that U.S. interrogators repeatedly threatened to rape him and Canadian government visitors told him they were powerless to do anything.

The claims were part of an affidavit sworn by Omar Khadr, 21, who is charged in the Guantanamo war court with murdering a U.S. soldier with a grenade during a firefight in Afghanistan when Khadr was 15.

Khadr has long claimed he was abused by American interrogators in Bagram, Afghanistan, after his capture in July 2002 and at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval base in Cuba, where he was taken a few months later.

The previously undisclosed allegations of the rape threats were part of a nine-page affidavit released by the U.S. military on Wednesday, with some of the names and details blacked out.

"On several occasions at Bagram, interrogators threatened to have me raped, or sent to other countries like Egypt, Syria, Jordan or Israel to be raped," Khadr said in the document.

He said interrogators told him at one point that the Egyptians would send "Soldier No. 9" to rape him.

Khadr was shot twice in the back and suffered shrapnel wounds in the eye during the battle that led to his capture at a suspected al Qaeda compound. After treatment at a field hospital, he was taken to a prison in Bagram, where he was hooded, threatened him with barking dogs and had water thrown on him, he said in the document.

Khadr said he was often shackled for hours during interrogations and denied use of a bathroom, forcing him to urinate on himself.

FLOOR CLEANING

"While my wounds were still healing, interrogators made me clean the floors on my hands and knees. They woke me up in the middle of the night after midnight and made me clean the floor with a brush and dry it with towels until dawn, carry heavy buckets of water," he said.

Later at Guantanamo, Khadr said an Afghan with a U.S. flag on his pants threatened to send him back to Afghanistan unless he cooperated, telling him: "They like small boys in Afghanistan."

Khadr said he gave "answers that made interrogators happy" to protect himself from further harm, but the information was untrue.

The U.S. military has said captives at Guantanamo are treated humanely and that claims of abuse are an al Qaeda tactic. They have confirmed that Canadian government representatives visited Khadr at Guantanamo.

During one such visit in 2003, Khadr said, he complained about his treatment and a man claiming to be a Canadian government representative told him:

"'The U.S. and Canada are like an elephant and an ant sleeping in the same bed' and there was nothing the Canadian government could do against the power of the U.S."

Khadr is charged with murdering U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher Speer and injuring other American soldiers with a grenade during the firefight. He is also charged with attempted murder, providing material support for terrorism and conspiring with al Qaeda. He could face life in prison if convicted.

He was scheduled to go to trial in May in the Guantanamo tribunal created by the Bush administration to try suspected terrorists. But a judge last week postponed the trial indefinitely to allow military defense lawyers more time to receive and review evidence they accused prosecutors of withholding.

(Editing by Chris Wilson)