Detention of Afghan man in Guantánamo Bay ruled illegal

WASHINGTON – A federal judge has ruled that the United States has no legal basis for detaining an Afghan in Guantánamo Bay because altho...


WASHINGTON – A federal judge has ruled that the United States has no legal basis for detaining an Afghan in Guantánamo Bay because although he fought alongside a militia in Afghanistan, he was not part of Al- Qaeda.

United States District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta noted that the detainee, Assadullah Haroon Gul, who was captured in Afghanistan in 2007 as a member of an Islamic militia, has not been labeled a member of Al Qaeda or an associated force, the legal basis for detention at Guantánamo Bay.

The ruling on a habeas corpus petition, however, does not secure his release anytime soon. In 2008, a federal judge ruled that 17 Chinese Muslims from the Uyghur minority were illegally detained at Guantánamo Bay but, as an oppressed minority, were unable to return home. The Uyghurs then languished in prison for years as the Obama administration searched for nations to receive them. The last three Uyghurs were sent to Slovakia for resettlement in 2013.

“What the ruling means is that Mr. Gul’s detention is illegal,” Tara J. Plochockia lawyer for the prisoner said on Wednesday. “Granting the summons does not mean that the judge can order the government to put him on a plane to Kabul, but the government is obligated to obey and comply with court orders, it must release him.” . “

The White House declined to comment on the decision. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, which defends the president’s authority to detain him in Guantánamo Bay, said lawyers are still considering an appeal.

The decision essentially doubles the dilemma of Mr. Haroon’s release, which earlier this month was approved for transfer by the Periodic Review Board, an interagency panel that determines whether and how a detainee can be transferred safely to the custody of another country. Repatriation may require seeking security guarantees from the Taliban, which U.S. officials have said they will not do. The Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August as the government collapsed.

Mr. Haroon, who is around 40 years old, was captured by Afghan forces while he was commander of the Hezb-i-Islami militia, which fought with the Taliban and al-Qaeda against the US and allied invasion of Afghanistan. He is being held at Guantanamo under the name Haroon al-Afghani.

His lawyers argued his war ended in 2016 when the militia made peace with the Afghan government allied with the United States of President Ashraf Ghani. The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs had submitted a file in the case seeking his return before the Ghani government fell to the Taliban, depriving the US government of a partner with whom to negotiate security agreements and a repatriation agreement.

The judge rejected the argument of Mr. Haroon’s lawyers that hostilities had ended in Afghanistan, a separate base to demand his release.

Ms Plochocki said Mr Haroon’s wife, daughter, brother and elderly mother live in Afghanistan and that he “is desperate to get home” to make sure his daughter receives an education. The Taliban banned women and girls from going to school the last time they were in power. He grew up in a refugee camp in Pakistan, she noted. However, the United States might consider sending him there if he is not allowed to return to Afghanistan.

The American army currently holds 39 inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison complex, including 12 were allowed to be released through parole-type counseling – if diplomats can strike security deals that satisfy Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, who must certify such arrangements to Congress. Meanwhile, the United States still considers detainees authorized for release to be legally detained prisoners of war. He simply concluded that, subject to certain security guarantees, they could be transferred into the custody of another government.

But now Mr. Haroon is different from the rest. He was not only cleared for transfer by the commission, but he is also the only prisoner whose detention has been ruled unlawful by a court. The court does not have the power to dictate how the government must comply with its order.

Judge Mehta, for example, could not order the government to put him on a plane and repatriate him because that would amount to justice interfering in the workings of foreign affairs. Courts have previously ruled that a federal judge does not have the power to order the transfer of a detainee from Guantanamo to the United States.

Earlier this week, another lawyer for Mr Haroon, Eric Lewis, urged the State Department to appoint a special envoy to coordinate the transfers of detainees from Guantánamo Bay, an approach taken by the Obama administration in its unsuccessful efforts. to put an end to base detention operations. The laundered men, he said in a statement, should be sent “home or to countries willing to help.”

For now, discussions with other countries are being handled by the State Department’s Office of Counterterrorism, under the direction of an interim coordinator, John T. Godfrey.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Detention of Afghan man in Guantánamo Bay ruled illegal
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