[JURIST] Three Bahrainis and a Saudi national were released Saturday from detention at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. None of the released detainees was ever charged with a crime under US law. According to a Bahraini lawmaker, the three Bahraini nationals were detained by Pakistani officials four years ago in Afghanistan and sold to US forces as members of Al-Queda, though their only crime was distributing humanitarian aid among Afghani refugees. They are expected to appear before Bahrain's prosecutor-general [empowering statute] to take the necessary measures followed in such cases, according to a Bahraini minister, but are not expected to be prosecuted. A Kuwaiti activist relying on very reliable sources said Saturday that as many as 40 Saudis will be released in the near future. There are 120 Saudi citizens currently being held at Guantanamo Bay, out of a total population of 500 prisoners. Read the US Department of Defense press release on the latest transfers. AFP has more on the Saudi national release; AP has more on the release of the Bahrainis.
[JURIST] More than 250 people were arrested Friday night in France as rioting spread from the poor suburbs of Paris into the cities of Strasbourg and Rennes. The riots, which began late last week, originated in Parisian ghettos, where jobless rates for males under 25 years old are approaching 25%; for Muslim residents under 25 years old, the rates are closer to 35-40%. The violence apparently started on October 27 after two immigrant youths - one from Tunisia and one from sub-Saharan Africa - were electrocuted in a Paris electrical sub-station where they had fled after allegedly being pursued by police. French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin [BBC profile] promised Thursday that restoring order is at the top of the governments agenda, and that police will not give in to the rioters. Commentators suggest that the tension in the ghettos is related to larger racial and religious issues in France, symbolized by the debate last spring over the French government's banning [JURIST report] of religious dress [JURIST archive], including Muslim head scarves [BBC report], in schools. Bloomberg has more.
[JURIST] Vice President Dick Cheney [official profile] urged Republican senators during a closed meeting earlier this week to exempt CIA agents from the Senate anti-torture McCain amendment [JURIST document] attached to the 2006 defense spending bill. The amendment, approved [JURIST report] 90-9 in the Senate last month, was unanimously reaffirmed [JURIST report] by voice-vote on Friday. According to an anonymous senator, Cheney, who is usually present for the weekly Republican senator strategy meetings but rarely speaks, argued that CIA agents should be allowed to employ cruel, inhuman or degrading interrogation tactics if the president decides such procedures are necessary to prevent an imminent terrorist attack. The exemption was suggested [JURIST report] by the White House late last month; President Bush has threatened to veto the military budget [JURIST report; White House policy statement, PDF] if the amendment as currently written is attached. AP has more.
[JURIST] President Bush sent a memo to White House staff members Friday announcing mandatory "ethics" briefings next week. The week-long series of "refresher lectures" on general ethics rules and the protection of classified information appears to be in response to the recent indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby [NYT profile] in the CIA leak probe [JURIST news archive]. The lectures will be conducted by the office of White House Counsel Harriet Miers [official profile], and are mandatory for any staff member with a security clearance. Presidential advisor Karl Rove [official profile], who has also been under investigation by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald [official website] in the CIA leak case, will be required to attend the sessions. AP has more.
[JURIST] The landmark Pennsylvania federal trial [JURIST report] debating the legality of a school district's decision to teach ninth-grade biology students the theory of anti-evolutionary intelligent design [Natural History backgrounder] drew to a close Friday. The plaintiffs, eight families in the Dover Area School District [official website], filed the lawsuit in November 2004 [JURIST report], arguing that the school district's policy, the nation's first to require intelligent design instruction, violates the Constitutional separation of church and state. Attorneys for the school district contend that intelligent design is a valid scientific theory that simply offers an alternative to evolution under the theory that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power. Federal judge John E. Jones III [official profile] is expected to issue an opinion by January. AP has more.
[JURIST] Oregon Circuit Judge Joseph Guimond Friday upheld [ruling, PDF] the constitutionality of Measure 36 [text], an Oregon constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive]. Judge Guimond rejected arguments that the Measure, defining marriage as "between one man and one woman", violated the state constitution [text] because it made several constitutional changes at once, and unlawfully prevented local governments from recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. The Oregon Defense of Marriage Coalition [advocacy website], which spearheaded the amendment's passage, applauded the ruling and contends that Measure 36 simply contains a one-sentence clarification of existing law. Basic Rights Oregon [advocacy website; press release response] said it will appeal. AP has more.
[JURIST] Lawyers for Jumah Dossari [Amnesty International case sheet], the Bahraini Guantanamo detainee identified as having made a suicide attempt [JURIST report] during an October 15 visit by attorney Joshua Colangelo-Bryan [profile], asked a federal judge Friday to order a relaxation of his solitary confinement, more communication with lawyers and relatives, and independent assessment of his medical and psychological records. Dossari has been held at Guantanamo for nearly four years after having been turned over to US forces in Afghanistan by Pakistani authorities in 2001. His lawyers say he is being held in a small room with only one small window of one-way glass that does not allow him to look out, and that he is released for exercise only once a week alone in a small cage. The Washington Post has more.
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