Guantanamo prosecutor fights release of classified information to defense

[JURIST] Chief Prosecutor Brig. Gen. Mark S. Martins of the war crimes court at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] filed a motion [text, PDF], which was made public [Office of Military Commissions report] on Monday, asking the court to reconsider an order [AE 120C, PDF] from last month that released classified information to defense attorneys regarding the arrest, detention and interrogation of Saudi detainee Abd Al-Rahim al-Nashiri. In his motion on behalf of the US government, Martins asked the court to reconsider its order in accordance with the current legal standard governing release of classified information and in consideration of efforts currently being made by the Obama administration to address the appropriate declassification of information to certain parties. Alternatively, Martins requested that the court clarify its previous order and the legal standard used in coming to its conclusion. Attorneys for Nashiri, who faces charges in connection with the 2000 attack on the USS Cole [JURIST news archive], which killed 17 US service members, plan to oppose the motion [NYT report], asserting that the information sought would be used only for purposes of Nahiri's defense and would not inevitably be shared with the public at large. It has already been made public that Nashiri was one of three detainees to have been waterboarded, and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] officials have testified that the interrogation strategies that have been used on Nashiri went beyond those authorized by the Bush administration.

Allegations of human rights violations at Guantanamo Bay have been an issue since the first prisoners were detained there in 2002. Last month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged the US [JURIST report] to release 76 detainees who had been cleared for transfer but had not yet been released from Guantanamo. Weeks earlier, a Saudi detainee requested release [JURIST report] to the UK to be with his family because of severe physical and mental health issues that his attorneys argued could take a lifetime to treat. In March, a Guantanamo detainee launched a lawsuit against the US challenging the practice of force-feeding [JURIST report] prisoners who have attempted to participate in hunger strikes. In February, a detainee filed a lawsuit alleging that he should be released [JURIST report] because he was a prisoner of war from the US mission in Afghanistan, and accordingly should be released since the US is withdrawing from the country. This lawsuit came weeks after US President Barack Obama [official website] renewed a push to have the detention center closed [JURIST report] this year, stating that it would be appropriate given the ending of the conflict in Afghanistan and would set an example by remaining true to democratic and constitutional values. Obama had originally pledged to close the detention center five years ago.

 

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