Federal judge overturns release of Yemeni Gitmo detainee

A judge for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on June 10 overturned the release of Yemeni Guantánamo Bay detainee Hussein Salem Mohammed Almerfedi. After his capture in 2001 and detention at Guantánamo Bay, Almerfedi filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus which was granted by a lower court. The government had argued that Almerfedi was a supporter of al-Qaeda because of his travels to Pakistan that indicated strong ties to the group. However, the court concluded that the government had not met its burden to show by a preponderance of the evidence that Almerfedi was part of al Qaeda. The appeals court, however, found that the government had met its burden of proof by a preponderance of evidence that Almerfedi was, in fact, part of al-Qaeda:

First, Almerfedi acknowledges that he stayed for two and a half months at Jama’at Tablighi, an Islamic missionary organization that is a Terrorist Support Entity “closely aligned” with al Qaeda. … [Second] if we add Almerfedi’s travel route, which is quite at odds with his professed desire to travel to Europe (and brought him closer to the Afghan border where al Qaeda was fighting), and also that he had at least $2,000 of unexplained cash on his person when captured … the government’s case that Almerfedi is an al Qaeda facilitator is on firmer ground… We conclude that all three facts,when considered together, are adequate to carry the government’s burden of deploying credible evidence that the habeas petitioner meets the enemy-combatant criteria.

The court relied heavily on the notion that circumstantial evidence is often sufficient enough to keep a prisoner detained.

There have been over 200 writs of habeas corpus filed on behalf of Guantánamo Bay detainees.

From Jurist, June 11. Used with permission.