By Maria E. Molina
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
WASHINGTON, U.S. – A federal judge on Thursday ordered the release of five Algerian detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. The cases largely hinged on the definition of an enemy combatant, which was argued to include al-Qaida or Taliban supporters who directly assisted in hostile acts against the U.S. or its allies.
The government’s evidence linking the five detainees to al-Qaida was found to be not credible as it came from a single, unidentified source. Therefore, the five detainees could not be held indefinitely as enemy combatants, and should be released immediately.
There was a sixth detainee that was not released because there was sufficient reason to believe he was close to an al-Qaida operative and had sought to help others travel to Afghanistan to join the terrorists’ fight against the United States and its allies. Much of the evidence against the detainees is classified and was not discussed in open trial or the detainees themselves.
The Justice Department claimed the six men were caught and detained before they could join a global jihad.
One of the men to be released is Lakhdar Boumediene, whose landmark Supreme Court case last summer gave Guantanamo detainees the right to challenge their imprisonment. The government initially detained the five men on suspicion of plotting to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo in October 2001. They were transferred to Guantanamo in January 2002.
The Bosnian government already has agreed to take back the detainees, all of whom immigrated to Bosnia from Algeria before they were captured in 2001.
The cases of more than 200 additional Guantanamo detainees are still pending.
For more information, please see:
Washington Post – Another Falsehood Exposed -21 November 2008
Yahoo News – Judge orders release of 5 terror suspects at Gitmo – 21 November 2008
NY Times – Judge Declares Five Detainees Held Illegally – 20 November 2008