World

France asks U.S. to drop charges against Khadr

The government of France is urging the United States to drop charges against Canadian terror suspect Omar Khadr, saying he should be treated as a minor.

The government of France is urging the United States to drop charges against Canadian terror suspect Omar Khadr, saying he should be treated as a minor.

Pascale Andreani, a spokeswoman for France's Foreign Ministry, told reporters in Paris Wednesday that France considers any child associated with an armed conflict a victim. Khadr, who was 15 when he was captured in Afghanistan in 2002, is being held at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

She said France considers "all children associated with an armed conflict … should be treated accordingly."

"As a minor at the time of the events, Mr. Khadr must be given special treatment — a point on which there is a universal consensus," Andreani said.

Khadr, whose family lives in Toronto, is expected to be tried by a military tribunal later this year on charges he killed a U.S. soldier with a hand grenade.

Under a United Nations protocol, fighters under 18 years of age are defined as child soldiers.

Khadr's American military lawyer Lt.-Cmdr. Bill Kuebler said France appears more interested in the rights of a Canadian prisoner than Canada.

"I think the clear violation of international law is what is of concern to the populations of Europe," he said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has so far refused to follow the lead of other Western countries, which successfully lobbied to have their citizens at Guantanamo returned home.

Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier has not responded to France's show of support for Khadr.

A spokesperson at the department sent CBC News a statement written months ago that said: "Questions regarding whether Canada plans to ask for the release of Mr. Khadr are premature … as the legal and appeal processes are still ongoing."