- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 14, 2002

NORFOLK (AP) A federal judge will decide whether the government has offered enough evidence to continue detaining an American-born man captured in Afghanistan.
Prosecutors say Yaser Esam Hamdi went to Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban and laid down an assault rifle when he surrendered during a battle late last year. The government contends that shows Mr. Hamdi is an enemy combatant, meaning that it can hold him indefinitely without charges or access to a lawyer.
U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar yesterday grilled a federal attorney about the only evidence the government has cited: an affidavit from a Pentagon official who reviewed records in the case and said they support Mr. Hamdi's classification as an enemy combatant.
Judge Doumar said he was concerned that the affidavit left out details of the circumstances of Mr. Hamdi's capture, such as whether he actually shot at anyone.
"I have no desire to interfere with the military," the judge said. "I do have a desire to see that people are treated like human beings."
Gregory Garre, assistant to the U.S. solicitor general, told Judge Doumar that the affidavit provides enough evidence for him to make a decision. He asked the judge to dismiss a request that Mr. Hamdi be released.
Judge Doumar said he would rule in a couple of days.
The judge previously had ordered the government to provide more evidence, including statements made by Mr. Hamdi and the Northern Alliance forces who captured him.
The government refused to comply, citing national security concerns.
An appeals court directed Judge Doumar to consider whether the affidavit submitted by the government is sufficient before taking further action.
The declaration was by Michael H. Mobbs, special adviser to the undersecretary of defense for policy. Mr. Mobbs wrote that Mr. Hamdi told U.S. military interrogators that he went to Afghanistan last summer to train with and, if necessary, fight for the Taliban.
Late last year, Mr. Hamdi's Taliban unit surrendered to Northern Alliance forces after a battle. En route to prison, Mr. Hamdi was directed to surrender his Kalashnikov assault rifle and did so, Mr. Mobbs wrote.
Mr. Hamdi, 21, was born in Louisiana and later moved to Saudi Arabia with his parents. He has been held in the Norfolk Naval Station jail since April 5.
Federal public defender Frank Dunham Jr. has been trying to meet with Mr. Hamdi and win his release.

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