- The Washington Times - Friday, April 3, 2009

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A federal judge ruled Thursday that prisoners in the war on terror can use U.S. civilian courts to challenge their detention at a military air base in Afghanistan, for the first time extending rights given to Guantanamo Bay detainees elsewhere in the world.

U.S. District Judge John Bates turned down the U.S. government’s motion to deny the right to three non-Afghan detainees at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have the right to challenge their detention in court. But the government had argued that it did not apply to those in Afghanistan.

Judge Bates said the cases were essentially the same. He quoted the Supreme Court ruling repeatedly in his judgment and applied the test created by it to each detainee. It is the first time a federal judge has applied the ruling to detainees in Afghanistan.

The Obama administration argued Feb. 20 that detainees at Bagram Airfield cannot use U.S. courts to challenge their detention.

The Justice Department has argued that Bagram is different from Guantanamo Bay because it is in an overseas war zone and the prisoners there are being held as part of a military action. The government argues that releasing enemy combatants into the Afghan war zone, or even diverting U.S. personnel there to consider their legal cases, could threaten security.

Judge Bates reserved judgment on one detainee, Haji Wazir, because he is an Afghan citizen and releasing him could create “practical obstacles in the form of friction with the host country.” He ordered Wazir and the government to file memos addressing those issues.

The other three detainees are from outside Afghanistan - Fadi al Maqaleh of Yemen, Amin al Bakri of Yemen and Redha al-Najar of Tunisia - and say they were captured outside the country.

All four of the detainees in this case have been held at the airfield for six years or more without access to the courts, which Judge Bates called “an unreasonable amount of time.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide