Richard Colvin, in an affidavit unsealed Wednesday by the Military Police Complaints Commission, said he wrote his first report, raising "serious, imminent and alarming" concerns of detainee abuse only one month after arriving in Afghanistan in April 2006.
"I soon became aware of a number of what, in my judgment, were problems in Canadian policy and/or practice, including regarding Afghan detainees," wrote Colvin, in an affidavit dated Oct. 5 of this year.
"I spent considerable time on the detainee file and sent many reports on detainee-related issues to Canadian officials."
In his affidavit, he said also gave first-hand evidence of the abuse and even torture that he learned about while visiting Afghan detainees in jail in June 2007.
He said his reports were widely distributed to Foreign Affairs officials and senior military personnel in Afghanistan and Ottawa, including the head of the military police.
Almost one year later, the Harper government continued to assert that it had no clear evidence that soldiers were knowingly surrendering their captives to face possible torture and abuse in Afghan prisons.
The government is trying to block Colvin and 21 other public servants from testifying at the commission's public inquiry into the handling of Afghan detainees, saying they have no relevant information and that they could end up blurting out national security secrets.
Colvin was posted in Afghanistan for 18 months in various senior roles. At one point, he was in charge of all policy files relevant to Canada.
Now the deputy head of intelligence at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, Colvin has hired his own lawyer to challenge the government's bid to block his testimony.
While there is no evidence in Colvin's affidavit that senior politicians in Ottawa knew of his reports, the lawyer for Amnesty International said Wednesday they were remiss if they didn't.
"If they knew, why did the they not say that they knew and if they didn't know, what was the problem?" asked Paul Champ.
"How can it be that these serious reports didn't get to the appropriate level of government to take action? If cabinet ministers weren't aware of that . . . I think that's a serious issue of accountability."
Colvin's affidavit was freed from secrecy only hours before commission chairman Peter Tinsley shut down the hearings indefinitely, saying he had no choice because the government has refused to hand over any documents to help implicated military police mount their defence.
Tinsley, in adjourning his inquiry, chastised the government for forcing military police to "continue to live under a government-enforced dark cloud of suspicion."
The commission, the political opposition and human rights advocates have persistently accused the government of trying to stonewall the commission, after losing a court challenge to stop the public proceedings.
"This is how we find ourselves where we are today, forced to adjourn the proceedings out of fairness to the subjects, since obviously they should not be the ones to suffer because of the government's conduct," Tinsley told the hearing.
Tinsley said the government has not produced a single new document since the commission decided last year that its probe would be public.
Government lawyers say that documents are all being screened for national security clearance and that they cannot release any until the entire lot is vetted.
Alain Prefontaine, a Justice Department lawyer, blamed the commission for casting its net too wide in its quest for documents, given the relatively narrow mandate of the probe to investigate the actions of military police.
Another reason the inquiry has been put on hold is that the commission is appealing a Federal Court ruling last month that curtailed the scope of the probe, rather than allowing it to delve into broader government policy.
Commission lawyer Freya Kristjanson said she expects that the appeal court will not hand down a ruling for at least four to six months.
Tinsley's term as commission chairman expires in December and the government says he will be not reappointed.
Meanwhile, a University of Ottawa law professor is taking the federal government to court over its refusal to release photographs of detainees held by Canadian Forces in Afghanistan.
Amir Attaran wants a court order to force the Department of National Defence to release pictures he requested in 2006 under the Access to Information Act.
The department initially declined to release the images of the detainees because of privacy concerns — an absurd proposition, Attaran says, given that they would be handed over to the Afghans.
"You just transferred these detainees to a police force that is known to torture and you think they're going to lie awake at night worrying about their privacy," he said.
When Attaran complained to the Information Commissioner Robert Marleau, however, DND dropped the privacy explanation and said the photos could not be released because of national security. When Marleau's office dismissed Attaran's complaint, he decided to challenge DND in court.