Rights groups urge Obama to stop Khadr trial

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by Paul Koring, Globe and Mail, Jan. 13, 2009

WASHINGTON — Right groups challenged president-elect Barack Obama yesterday to stop the war-crimes trial of Canadian Omar Khadr, the first terrorist suspect scheduled to go on trial at Guantanamo only six days after the inauguration.

Mr. Obama’s staff avoided answering the challenge yesterday, saying only that the president-elect was preparing to order the closing of the detainee prisons, likely within days of taking office next week. Closing Guantanamo is a promise Mr. Obama has repeatedly made, although he has recently hedged about the timing and has declined to say where prisoners would be sent and whether he would scrap the controversial military tribunals.

“We’re not asking that Omar Khadr be released,” said Marsha Levick, legal director of the Juvenile Law Center, one of several groups demanding the trial of Mr. Khadr be halted because he was only 15 – and thus a child soldier – when he allegedly killed a U.S. soldier in a firefight in Afghanistan.

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