TORONTO — Confusion surrounded Canadian Abdullah Khadr’s lengthy detention in Pakistan and obtaining information from that country’s intelligence agency was difficult, an RCMP investigator testified Tuesday.
Det.-Insp. Konrad Shourie told Khadr’s extradition hearing that he didn’t know whether Khadr had been legally detained or brought before the courts in Pakistan.
He said he sought a briefing from Pakistani authorities about Khadr’s legal situation over a period of several months in 2004 and 2005 without success.
“That was never clarified,” Shourie testified. “I found there was not a lot of information forthcoming to me around Mr. Khadr’s detention.”
Shourie, who was a sergeant with the RCMP’s national security team at the time, said he knew a U.S. intelligence agency had put a $500,000 bounty on Khadr’s head but said he didn’t know whether that played a role in his arrest in October 2004.
The officer said he believed Pakistan had detained Khadr for plotting to assassinate the country’s prime minister.
Still, as late as mid-March of 2005, RCMP who saw Khadr in Pakistan were expressing doubts the Pakistanis had any evidence to lay criminal charges or had any intention of doing so, court heard.
Pakistan never did charge Khadr before allowing him to fly back to Canada in December 2005.
RCMP documents also show an unnamed U.S. agency was an observer at Khadr’s interrogations in Pakistan and had “input into the line of questioning.”
Shourie said he had no qualms about the U.S. involvement because he knew the Americans were interested in Khadr.
Khadr, whose father was a reputed high-level al-Qaida financier and close associate of Osama bin Laden’s, is fighting extradition to the United States.
The U.S. wants to try him on charges he bought weapons for the terrorist group and plotted to kill Americans in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Khadr, 28, argues self-incriminating statements he gave Shourie should be thrown out because he was tortured during his 14 months in Pakistani custody.
Shourie testified the RCMP were interested in Khadr in part because his younger brother, Abdurahman, had told them in May 2002 in Bagram, Afghanistan that Khadr had been indoctrinated in the al-Qaida cause and was a trainer for the group.
Shourie said his main concern was to bring a “proper statement” back to Canada, and was finally given access to him by the Pakistanis in April 2005.
Earlier in the day, Shourie told Ontario Superior Court Justice Christopher Speyer that Khadr willingly chatted with him after his arrival back in Canada in December 2005.
Khadr seemed relaxed, and appeared to be trying to get things off his chest, Shourie testified.
The Toronto-born Khadr has previously testified he felt intimidated and compelled to talk to Shourie because of the heavily armed police presence he encountered when he got off the plane.
But Shourie said the security reception was deliberately low key, and hardly threatening.
The officer said he took care not to use any material from the earlier interview he had done with Khadr in Pakistani custody.
“I didn’t want to taint this statement in any way,” the detective said. “I let Mr. Khadr talk to me.”
Shourie said Khadr did back-pedal from the statements he had made in Pakistan in an effort to “minimize” his involvement in weapons purchasing.
Two weeks after the airport interview, on Dec. 17, 2005, Shourie invited Khadr to a fast-food restaurant, where an arrest team took him into custody at the request of the Americans.
He’s been in prison since.