Judge rejects challenge from Gitmo detainee

A federal judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia on July 30 rejected a legal challenge from a Guantánamo Bay detainee who claimed that his detention at the naval base was illegal. Muktar Yahya Najee al-Warafi from Yemen was captured in Afghanistan and has been held at Guantánamo since 2002. In his challenge, he claimed that his imprisonment was unlawful due to recent statement by President Barack Obama that hostilities between the US and the Taliban have ended. Warafi brought the action under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), arguing that the stated end of hostilities made it unlawful to continue holding him. However, Judge Royce C. Lamberth wrote that the government had presented "convincing evidence that US involvement in the fighting in Afghanistan, against al-Qaida and Taliban forces alike, has not stopped… A court cannot look to political speeches alone to determine factual and legal realities merely because doing so would be easier than looking at all the relevant evidence." Warafi has yet to decide if he will appeal.

In July the Obama administration confirmed in a press briefing that it is drafting a plan to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay before President Obama's time in office runs out. Also in July US Secretary of State John Kerry appointed Lee Wolowsky the new envoy to lead the Obama administration's efforts to close Guantanamo. In June the US Periodic Review Board announced that one of the longest-held detainees at Guantánamo, Abdul Rahman Shalabi, may be released to his home country of Saudi Arabia. In May the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decided not to get involved, for the time being, in a case regarding whether the public should have access to video footage showing the force-feeding of a Guantánamo detainee.

From Jurist, July 31. Used with permission.