Federal judge orders release of Yemeni Gitmo detainee

A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia on Dec. 16 granted Yemeni Guantánamo Bay detainee Saeed Hatim‘s petition for habeas corpus, ordering his release. The US Department of Defense alleged that Hatim trained at the al-Farouq paramilitary camp in Afghanistan. Judge Ricardo Urbina’s ruling remains sealed, and lawyers have declined to elaborate on his reasoning. A spokesperson for the US Department of Justice said the government is currently considering its options.

Urbina’s ruling comes just two days after Judge Thomas Hogan denied Yemeni Guantánamo detainee Musa’ab al-Madhwani‘s petition for habeas corpus, ruling that the government may continue to detain him. Madhwani allegedly trained at the same camp as Hatim. Hogan excluded from evidence statements Madhwani made to interrogators, finding them to be the product of abusive techniques, but admitted statements made during military hearings because they were given years after the alleged abuse. Hogan found that while he does not believe that Madhwani poses a threat, the government met its burden of proving that he was a member of al Qaeda. The new ruling brings the total number of granted habeas petitions to 32, with just nine victories for the government. (Jurist, Dec. 17)

The Swiss government announced Dec. 16 that it has agreed to accept one Uzbek Guantánamo Bay detainee for resettlement “on humanitarian grounds.” The unidentified detainee has been held at Guantánamo since 2005 but has never faced charges. The detainee has been cleared for release since 2005, but could not be returned to Uzbekistan for fear of persecution. Several detainees have been transferred to Europe, and various European countries have expressed a willingness to take detainees as the Obama administration works to close the facility. (Jurist, Dec. 16)

US Attorney General Eric Holder said Dec. 16 that the decision to purchase the Thomson Correctional Center in northwestern Illinois to house inmates from Guantánamo could help close the facility over the next several months. Holder told a press conference that the purchase of the TCC removes a significant obstacle for closing the facility. Despite initially expressing hope that Guantanamo will close within the next few months, he later told Reuters that it may not close until the summer or early next fall. Holder did emphasize that while the Jan. 22 deadline will be missed, the facility will be closed. (Jurist, Dec. 17)

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