Appeals Court Reverses Detainee's Classification as Enemy Combatant

Huzaifa Parhat is a Chinese Muslim, one of many Uighurs held at Guantanamo. (Background here.)

Parhat and the other Uighurs from Western China have been at Gitmo since 2002. In 2004, the Bush Administration acknowledged most were innocent of wrongdoing but insisted that because they could not go back to China without fear of persecution, and since no other country would take them, it had the right to continue to detain them.

Parhat was one of the Uighurs that the Pentagon refused to release. Friday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled he is not an enemy combatant and may seek his freedom.

Parhat is the first detainee to have his "enemy combatant" designation overturned. [More...]

A federal appeals court on Monday overturned a U.S. military tribunal's enemy combatant designation for a Chinese Muslim at the Guantanamo Bay prison, its first ruling that gives a detainee a chance for release.

It ordered the U.S government to release or transfer Huzaifa Parhat, a member of the Uighur ethnic group, or to "expeditiously" hold a new military tribunal for him. ....The court also said Parhat can seek his immediate release before a U.S. District judge under the Supreme Court's landmark ruling this month that the detainees have the legal right to challenge their years-long confinement.

From Radiance Viewsweekly:

Lawyers for the US Department of Justice defended the six-year detention of Huzaifa Parhat, a Chinese Uighur Muslim, at Guantanamo Bay in oral arguments before the US Court of Appeals. The US claims Parhat is an “enemy combatant” due to his ties with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a group that calls for independence from China and was designated a terrorist organisation by the US State Department in 2002. The DoJ acknowledged that Parhat did not fight against the US and that there is no evidence that he intended to do so, but said he can still be held under the 2001 Authorisation for Use of Military Force Act because ETIM is affiliated with al-Qaeda.

In 2006, five Chinese Uighur detainees were released to Albania, where officials reviewed applications for asylum. The transfer, which was criticised by China, ended a court challenge against the detainees’ indefinite detention. In December 2006, lawyers for seven Uighur detainees filed a lawsuit, arguing that the process by which they were determined to be “enemy combatants” was flawed.

The opinion is not yet available as the Court is preparing a redacted version without classified information. Today's order announcing the decision says (obtained via PACER):

On Friday, June 20, 2008, the court issued an opinion to the parties in the above-captioned case. Pursuant to the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, the court held invalid a decision of a Combatant Status Review Tribunal that petitioner Huzaifa Parhat is an enemy combatant. The court directed the government to release or to transfer Parhat, or to expeditiously hold a new Tribunal consistent with the court's opinion.

The court also stated that its disposition was without prejudice to Parhat's right to seek release immediately through a writ of habeas corpus in the district court, pursuant to the Supreme Court's decision in Boumediene v. Bush, No. 06-1195, slip op. at 65-66 (U.S. June 12, 2008). Because the opinion contains classified information and information that the government had initially submitted for treatment under seal, a redacted version for public release is in preparation.

< Supreme Court Rules Right to Lawyer Begins At First Court Appearance | A Day in the Life of a Uighur Detainee at Gitmo's Camp Six >
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    Oh the irony.... (none / 0) (#1)
    by kdog on Mon Jun 23, 2008 at 12:50:28 PM EST
    we can't send them to China to be persecuted, so we will persecute them instead.

    WTF? Seriously...

    If they didn't attack the US, then their detention is a mistake.  If China will persecute them, let them come to the mainland to live as political refugees.

    One by one.... (none / 0) (#2)
    by Carolyn in Baltimore on Mon Jun 23, 2008 at 01:00:13 PM EST
    the administrations obviously flawed dictums are overturned - by a hand-picked court even.

    And now I'm wondering who the dissenter(s) were.