US releases Gitmo detainee Boumediene to France

US officials said May 15 that Algerian Guantánamo Bay detainee Lakhdar Boumediene has been released and sent to France. Boumediene was the named plaintiff in the US Supreme Court case Boumediene v. Bush , in which the Court held that Guantanamo detainees could challenge their imprisonment in federal court through the use of habeas corpus motions.

Last week, the French government confirmed that it would accept Boumediene after French President Nicholas Sarkozy told US President Barack Obama at an April meeting that the country would accept one Guantánamo prisoner as part of a symbolic measure to assist in the closing of the facility. The framework for the agreement was established at the first meeting between the two heads of state, at which Sarkozy congratulated Obama on his January decision to order the closure of Guantánamo.

Obama’s order directed that the military prison be closed “as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order.” The order did not specify where detainees would go upon release, but did call for diplomatic efforts with foreign states in order to facilitate the closure of the facility. Last week, a spokesperson for the German Interior Ministry said that the US has asked Germany to take in up to 10 detainees. In April, UK Minister of Justice Jack Straw reiterated his country’s willingness to accept Guantánamo detainees in order to speed the closure of the facility. In March, top officials from the Obama administration met with leaders from the European Union (EU) to discuss plans to transfer Guantánamo Bay detainees to European countries. Individual member states have also indicated their openness to accepting detainees, including Lithuania, Ireland, and Portugal. Other states have expressed reservations about accepting detainees, including Poland and Spain, while Italy and the Netherlands have said they will not accept detainees. (Jurist, May 15)

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