Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Judge rules documents must be released in case of former Guantanamo prisoner

Source: Courthouse News Service

The Center for Constitutional Rights filed a petition challenging the detention of Somali native Mohammed Sulaymon Barre who is believed to have been sold to the United States for a bounty. Once in the custody of U.S. forces, Barre was detained at military bases in Kandahar and Bagram before being transferred to the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he claims he was tortured. He was released in 2009, leading a judge to dismiss his habeas petition as moot.

The government fought to keep many of the documents classified, citing national security concerns. Specifically, it asked the court to shield the location of an al-Qaida training facility, along with an unspecified word that it claimed had been mistakenly disclosed in a court filing. Judge Lamberth said these pieces of information are not protected, because they "have been officially acknowledged and remain publicly available. ... [T]his ignores the inherent public interest in Guantanamo litigation generally, and in the facts related to the release of this detainee in particular," Lamberth wrote. "Here, petitioner's documents have remained essentially under seal for 42 months, and the court sees no reason to write the government a blank check and allow them to produce the documents at some unknown point in the future."

The judge allowed the government to protect some documents, such as the litigation materials shown to Barre and his attorney in detention.

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