Supreme Court permits Gitmo detainees’ return to Algeria —despite torture fears

The US Supreme Court on July 17 declined to review the decision of a lower court permitting the government to transfer Guantánamo Bay detainee Farhi Saeed bin Mohammed to Algeria. The 5-3 decision leaves in place a ruling of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in which the government asserted that Mohammed’s return to Algeria was permissible because there was not credible evidence that he would face torture upon his arrival. Mohammed may appeal, though it is possible that he will have been returned to Algeria by that time. Later that day, the court similarly rejected the request of a second Algerian, Abdul Aziz Naji, to review his pending transfer.

The court’s refusal to hear the cases lends credence to the circuit court’s decision to rely upon Munaf v. Geren in affirming the government’s decision over that of a federal judge. Munaf granted the government the authority to transfer detainees to the country where their crimes are alleged to have been committed as a means by which to show deference to that country’s ability to enforce its laws. A federal judge ordered Mohammed’s release in November. Judge Gladys Kessler of the US District Court for the District of Columbia directed the government to “take all necessary and appropriate steps to facilitate [Fari Saeed’s] release forthwith.” The order resulted from a civil action brought against the US government for unlawfully detaining him since 2002.

From Jurist, July 17. Used with permission.

  1. Algerian court indicts ex-Gitmo detainee
    The Algerian prosecutor’s office said July 27 that former Guantánamo Bay detainee Aziz Abdul Naji had been indicted, but did not specify the charges. The charges come after a period of detention by the Algerian government under a statute that allows for the detention of terror suspects for up to 12 days. Naji was released July 26 after a judge placed him under judicial supervision, requiring him to appear at the local police station every week. Naji, who was held at Guantánamo since his capture in 2002, was repatriated to Algeria earlier this month after the US Supreme Court failed to stay the transfer. Naji had appealed to the court asking that it review his pending transfer and that he be allowed to remain at the Guantánamo facility. In his appeal, Naji expressed concern that he would be tortured or killed if returned to Algeria. (Jurist, July 27)