Federal court begins habeas hearings for Gitmo detainees

Judge Richard Leon of the US District Court for the District of Columbia Nov. 6 began habeas corpus hearings for six Algerians challenging their detention at Guantánamo Bay. The hearings are the first to be held since the Supreme Court granted detainees at the facility the right to challenge their captivity in Boumediene v. Bush in June. The government has not brought criminal charges against the men, but has said that they planned to join al-Qaeda in hostilities against the US. Lawyers for the men challenged the sufficiency of the government’s evidence, and criticized Leon’s decision to close the hearing to the public after he found that some of the evidence used against the six should be kept classified. His ruling on the petition is expected later this month.

Also Nov. 6, DC District Court Chief Judge Thomas Hogan issued an order establishing rules for the habeas hearings that have been put under his jurisdiction. In the order, Hogan specified that the government must show “by a preponderance of the evidence” that it can justify holding the detainees, and that it must define “enemy combatant” in order to hold the men under the designation.

In October, Leon ruled that in order to be validly held as an “enemy combatants,” Guantánamo Bay detainees must have directly supported hostilities against the US or its allies setting the standard which the government must use to justify their detention. (Jurist, Nov. 7)

See our last post on Gitmo and the detainment scandal.