Dozens of Gitmo Detainees Get Habeas Hearings By Video

While the focus on Guantanamo this week has been on the 10 who will be charged in federal court or military commission trials, the AP today has a report on the 15 Judges of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia who have been holding habeas hearings for the Guantanamo detainees not charged with crimes. The hearings have been ongoing as a result of the Supreme Court's decision that detainees have the right to challenge their detention and conditions of confinement. So far, 30 have been ordered released, and 8 have been ordered detained. The scorecard is here.

  • Total Habeas Cases Decided: 38
  • Habeas Cases Granted: 30
  • Habeas Cases Denied: 8
  • Habeas Granted and Released: 18
  • Habeas Granted and Still Detained: 12
  • Current Guantanamo Population: 215

The court's public website for the cases is here. Some ruling excerpts:

"There is absolutely no reason for this court to presume that the facts contained in the government's exhibits are accurate," District Judge Gladys Kessler wrote in ordering the release of Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed. He was repatriated to Yemen after a seven-year stay at Guantanamo, where he was brought as a teenager.

...The evidentiary record "is surprisingly bare," U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote in ordering the release of Fouad Mahmoud Al Rabiah, a 50-year-old father of four from Kuwait who had been an aviation engineer for Kuwaiti Airways for 20 years. He has been imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay since 2002.

Dozens have been cleared by federal judges for release, but only 25 actually have left, because they can't be released into the U.S. and other countries must be found to take them. How the hearings work:

The district judges contacted the attorney general and the defense secretary to arrange for a secure video link to Guantanamo. A few judges have taken testimony by satellite from several detainees who wanted to speak on their own behalf.

Typically, the first half hour of a detainee's hearing is open to the public, with the prisoner listening by phone. Then the courtroom doors are locked, and the judges hear classified evidence.

Each of the 15 judges' chambers was outfitted with a safe, special laptop computers and printers and each of the judges' law clerks underwent background checks and was given a security clearance to deal with classified information that dominates the evidence.

Here is the calendar for upcoming hearings.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Thanks for this, Jeralyn (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 02:04:21 PM EST
    I did not know this was ongoing, never mind what the results have been.  I'm very glad to hear it.

    Can anyone explain why ... (none / 0) (#1)
    by Robot Porter on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 11:41:38 AM EST
    a number of the detainees have been "resettled to" Palau and Bermuda?

    Under international law (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Peter G on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 12:00:29 PM EST
    (reflected in our own immigrations laws, by the way) if someone is expelled from a country of which s/he is not a citizen, their own country is supposed to take them back.  But if the country of origin refuses to take the person back -- or if deportation to that country is itself forbidden by international law because of the probability that the expelled person will face persecution or torture in their own country -- then the person can be deported to any other country that agrees to accept them.  (The person can also theoretically be granted asylum here, but Congress has forbidden that in the case of the Guantanamo detainees.)  In this instance, Palau and Bermuda agreed (under diplomatic pressure from the US) to accept the Uighers from Guantanamo, because their own country of citizenship (China) either refused to accept them back or would have persecuted them upon their return on the basis of their religion.

    Albania, of all places (none / 0) (#5)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 02:03:14 PM EST
    took the first lot of Uighurs released, I think seven of them, last year.

    They were Uyghurs (none / 0) (#2)
    by rdandrea on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 11:56:55 AM EST
    Chinese Muslims who are oppressed in their home country.  They had emigrated to Afghanistan seeking religious freedom.  From a CNN story:
    He (one of the relocated prisoners) said he had traveled to Afghanistan not to attend any terrorist training camps but because -- as a Uyghur -- he had been oppressed by the Chinese government. "We had to leave the country to look for a better life, a peaceful life, and Afghanistan is a neighboring country to our country, and it's easy to go," he said. "It is difficult to obtain a visa to go to any other places, so it was really easy for us to just travel to Afghanistan."

    Many feel that they were wrongly imprisoned.

    They couldn't be repatriated to China for fear they would have been tortured. (How's that for irony?)


    Start (none / 0) (#3)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 11:58:26 AM EST
    sigh .. $200M in aid .. (none / 0) (#7)
    by nyrias on Mon Nov 16, 2009 at 11:38:09 AM EST
    in exchange for getting those 17 Chinese muslims a place to stay.