Federal appeals court overturns Guantanamo habeas grant

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] on Tuesday overturned a decision [opinion, PDF] that granted the habeas corpus petition of Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Mohammed al-Adahi. In reversing the decision, the appellate court held that the district court erred in examining the evidence against al-Adahi individually, considering and rejecting each piece of evidence in isolation without considering them as a whole. This approach, according the court, led to the "manifestly incorrect [and] startling" conclusion that the government lacked credible evidence to keep al-Adahi in detention. The evidence, including al-Adahi's meetings with Osama bin Laden, attending an al Qaeda [GlobalSecurity backgrounders] training camp, staying in one of the organization's safe houses and additional classified evidence, was sufficient to leave "no doubt that Al-Adahi was more likely than not part of al-Qaida." The court explained:

The [district] court appeared to rule that an individual must embrace every tenet of al-Qaida before United States forces may detain him. There is no such requirement. When the government shows that an individual received and executed orders from al-Qaida embers in a training camp, that evidence is sufficient (but not necessary) to prove that the individual has affiliated himself with al-Qaida.
Additionally, the appellate court criticized the lower court's failure to question the credibility of al-Adahi as a witness. The court emphasized the necessity of this finding because of the training al Qaeda operatives receive to create cover stories, lie to interrogators and claim they had been tortured.

In August 2009, the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] ruled that the US lacks enough evidence [JURIST report] to justify the continued detention of al-Adahi, granting his habeas petition. The government argued that al-Adahi, who has been detained at Guantanamo since 2002, was a supporter or member of the Taliban [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] and/or al Qaeda, claiming that al-Adahi had acted as an instructor at al Qaeda camp al Farouq, had familial ties to both the Taliban and al Qaeda, had been employed as a bodyguard for bin Laden and that al-Adahi's story lacked credibility. In December 2009, the court found the US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] in contempt for failing to videotape [JURIST report] al-Adahi's testimony, contrary to a court order issued in June.

 

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