A federal judge on Thursday upheld the detention of Mashur Al Sabri [summary of evidence, PDF], a Saudi-born Yemeni citizen who was captured between Afghanistan and Pakistan and detained as an enemy combatant in December 2002. Sabri is currently 32 years old and has been held for more than eight years in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The ruling [Miami Herald report] by Judge Ricardo Urbina [official profile] of the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] was issued under seal, and it is not presently known why or which parts of the Pentagon's allegations he found convincing. District court judges have now upheld the detention of 21 individuals and allowed for the release of 38 others, with several cases being appealed.
Earlier this week, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [advocacy website] used the death of a Guantanamo detainee to highlight what it claims are problems with the detention system [press release; JURIST report] currently used by the US for dealing with suspected terrorists. The deceased, Awal Gul, had been at the Guantanamo Bay detention center since October 2002, suspected of having aided the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan [DOD press release, PDF]. Gul died on Tuesday of an apparent heart attack after he had completed some aerobic exercises. The CCR believes that the circumstances surrounding Gul's death illustrate the inherent problem with the detention center and the policy the US follows in detaining and indefinitely holding suspected terrorists, claiming that the facility has become a purgatory, where people are held indefinitely. What to do with Guantanamo detainees remaining in US custody continues to be a significant issue. In January, Human Rights Watch criticized President Barack Obama [JURIST report] for failing to shut down the facility as he promised during the 2008 presidential campaign. Earlier last month, Obama signed a defense authorization bill that prohibits the transfer of detainees to the US for trial [JURIST report], further confusing the future of the 177 men currently at the facility. In an effort to reduce the population at the facility, the US has been transferring detainees [JURIST report], some to their native countries.