Guantánamo timeline: Captives sue for release

 

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 June 12, 2008 that federal judges have the authority to review the Pentagon’s detention of captives at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, through habeas corpus petitions. Since then, the judges at the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. have been working through some 200 captives' lawsuits.

The scorecard so far: 21-38.

Federal judges have sided with the U.S. government and ruled against the habeas corpus petitions of 21 detainees. The judges have ordered the government to arrange for the release of 38 others.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit has so far reviewed five of the 14 cases, upheld four indefinite detentions and remanded two back to the District Court for review. The U.S. government also has been appealing at the circuit some of the release orders, and got one overturned so far in the case of Yemeni Mohammed al Adahi, on July 13, 2010. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the Adahi appeal on Jan. 18, 2011.

Dozens more detainees have lawsuits contesting their detention in the court pipeline.

To accommodate the caseload, the court:
    --put a satellite receiver on the roof so captives could testify by video link from the prison camp 1,300 miles away;
    --got more clerks trained and cleared to handle classified documents; got five more security officers to safeguard classified information;
    --outsourced some non-Guantánamo cases to federal judges in Maryland and West Virginia;
    --and installed a Guantánamo-specific safe and classified computer for each of the 14 judge's chambers.


From left, U.S. District Court Judges: Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth, Ellen Segal Huvelle, Paul L. Friedman, Thomas F. Hogan, Henry H. Kennedy, Gladys Kessler. Second tier: Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, Richard J. Leon, James Robertson, Emmet G. Sullivan, Reggie B. Walton and Ricardo Urbina are the 14 judges at the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. hearing the Guantánamo habeas corpus petitions.

The habeas rulings to date:

  • Oct. 7, 2008: Judge Ricardo M. Urbina’s orders release of 17 citizens of China, ethnic Muslims called Uighurs, after nearly seven years of U.S. military custody. Four now live in Bermuda, two in Switzerland, six have been sent to Palau and five more are still at Guantánamo, awaiting resettlement in a third country because they fear persecution if they were sent back to their communist ruled homeland.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling.


  • Nov. 20, 2008: Judge Richard J. Leon, orders release of five Algerians who were handed over to U.S. forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina and sent to Guantánamo, and upholds the detention of a sixth. Three went to Algeria and two were resettled in France. Click here to read the judge's ruling.

  • On June 28, 2010, a federal appeals panel overturned the decision in the sixth case, that of indefinite detention for Algerian Belkacem Bensayah and sent it back to the District Court for review again. Click here to read the panel's opinion.

  • Dec. 30, 2008: Judge Leon upholds the detention of Yemeni Moath al Alwi, ruling that he had fought with the Taliban during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling.


  • Dec. 30, 2008: Judge Leon upholds the detention of Tunisian Hisham Sliti, ruling he likely traveled from London to Afghanistan in mid 2000 as an al Qaeda recruit.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling.


  • Jan. 14, 2009: Judge Leon orders the release Mohammed el Gharani of Chad, finding that the government provided no corroborating evidence of how a minor from a poor family in Saudi Arabia could become a member of a London based terror cell. He was released in June.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling.


  • Jan. 28, 2008: Judge Leon upholds the detention of Yemeni Ghaleb Nassar al Bihani, ruling that he aided the enemy in Afghanistan by serving as a cook for the Taliban. Click here to read the judge's ruling.
  • A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the decision Jan. 5, 2010. Click here to read the panel's opinion.

  • April 2, 2009: Judge Leon upholds the detention Tunisian Hadi Hammamy, ruling that the former resident of Italy was likely at the battle of Tora Bora.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling.


  • April 15, 2009: Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle orders the release Yemeni Yassin Muhammed Basardh, who acted as an informant on other detainees at Guantánamo. He is still at Guantánamo. The Justice Department is appealing the decision.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling.


  • May 11, 2009: Judge Gladys Kessler orders the release of Yemeni Alla Ali Ahmed, saying the government’s mosaic theory of association with terrorism did not meet the burden. He was repatriated Sept. 26, 2009.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling.


  • June 22, 2009: Judge Leon orders the release Syrian Abdulrahim Janko, saying his detention as a war prisoner "defies common sense" in part because he had been held and tortured by the Taliban or al Qaeda in the 18 months prior to his capture by U.S. troops in Afghanistan. He was released for resettlement in Europe.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling.


  • July 29, 2009: Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly orders the release of Kuwaiti Khalid Mutairi, ruling that the government case offered nothing but speculation that he had trained or was associated with al Qaeda before his 2001 capture in Afghanistan. He was repatriated to a Kuwaiti rehabilitation program Oct. 8, 2009.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling.


  • July 30, 2009: Judge Huvelle orders the release of Afghan Mohammed Jawad after declaring the government case in a “shambles” because a military judge had earlier ruled the young man’s confession was obtained through torture in his native Afghanistan. He was freed Aug. 24.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling.


  • Aug. 12, 2009: Judge James Robertson upholds the detention of Yemeni Ali Awad, agreeing that he trained with al Qaeda and then holed up in an Afghan hospital in a bloody standoff early in the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling.
  • A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the decision June 8, 2010. Click here to read the panel's opinion.

  • Aug. 17, 2009: Judge Kessler orders the release of Yemeni Mohammed al Adahi, saying that he may have attended a party with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan but he washed out of al Qaeda training. He is still at Guantánamo after the Justice Department successfully appeal the ruling, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the Adahi appeal on Jan. 18, 2011.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling.
  • A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the decision July 13, 2010.

  • Aug. 23, 2009: Judge Kollar-Kotelly upholds the detention of Kuwaiti Fawzi al Odah, held since his capture in December 2001 in Afghanistan, in a ruling that concluded he served as an al Qaeda or Taliban foot soldier. Al Odah's lawyers had filed the oldest, longest-running unlawful detention lawsuit at the federal court.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling.
  • A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the decision June 30, 2010. Click here to read the panel's opinion.

  • Sept. 3, 2009: Judge Rosemary Collyer upholds as lawful the detention of Algerian Sufiyan Barhoumi, captured in March 2003 in Pakistan along with alleged arch-terrorist Abu Zubaydah. A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the decision June 22, 2010. Click here to read the panel's opinion.

  • Sept. 17, 2009: Judge Kollar-Kotelly orders the release of Kuwaiti Fouad al Rabia, agreeing with defense that Guantánamo interrogators coerced him into falsely confessing he worked as a logistics and supply officer at the December 2001 Battle of Tora Bora. A royal jet fetched him from Guantánamo and brought him home on Dec. 9, 2009.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling.


  • Nov. 20, 2009: Judge Kessler orders the release of Algerian Farhi Saeed Bin Mohammed. He was returned to his native Algeria from Guantánamo on Jan. 6, 2011, after failing to get a restraining order or U.S. Supreme Court intervention to prevent his repatriation on grounds he feared return to his home country.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling.


  • Dec. 14, 2009: Judge Thomas F. Hogan upholds the detention of Yemeni Musa'ab al Madwahni, ruling that he "voluntarily trained with al Qaeda for 25 days, and then traveled, associated and lived with members of al Qaeda for an entire year."
    Click here to read the transcript of the judge's bench ruling.

  • Click here to read the judge's written ruling.
    A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the decision May 27, 2011. Click here to read the panel's opinion.


  • Dec. 16, 2009: Judge Urbina orders the release of Yemeni Saeed Hatim. An appeals court overturned that decision Feb. 15, 2011.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling.


  • Feb. 24, 2010: Judge Kessler upholds the detention of Yemeni Suleiman al Nahdi, ruling that al Qaeda members considered him such "a loyal and trustworthy supporter" in the Battle of Tora Bora that he was allowed to feed, shelter and protect Osama bin Laden.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling.


  • Feb. 24, 2010: Judge Kessler upholds the detention of Yemeni Fahmi al Assani, ruling that "it is more likely than not" that he "followed orders from the al Qaeda leadership" in Afghanistan in both training and travel to Tora Bora until he was wounded in coalition bombing.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling.


  • Feb. 24, 2010: Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. orders the release of Yemeni Uthman Mohammed Uthman. He is still at Guantánamo.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling.


  • March. 22, 2010: Judge Robertson orders the release of Mauritanian Mohamedou Slahi, one of two Guantánamo detainees approved for special interrogation techniques by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Slahi is still at Guantánamo. The Obama administration appealed the release order and on Nov. 4 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit remanded it back to Robertson for review.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling.


  • March. 25, 2010: Judge Royce Lamberth upholds the detention of Yemeni Muktar Yahya Wrafi, who claimed he was working as a physicians assistant in Afghanistan.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling


  • April 8, 2010: Judge Kennedy upholds the detention of Yemeni Yasein Khasem Mohammad Esmail. He is still at Guantánamo. And on April 8, 2011, the DC Circuit court upheld that decision
    Click here to read the judge's ruling
  • A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the decision April 8, 2011. Click here to read the panel's opinion.

  • April 19, 2010: Judge Robertson upholds the detention of Libyan Omar Mohammed Khalifh in an oral ruling at a closed hearing.
    Click here to read the judge's subsequent written ruling


  • May 13, 2010: Judge Kennedy orders the release of Russian Ravil Mingazov, who was captured in Pakistan in March 2002 on suspicion of ties to Abu Zubaydah.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling



  • May 26, 2010: Judge Kennedy orders the release of Yemeni Mohammed Odaini, also known as Mohammed Hassen, who was captured in Pakistan in March 2002. He was repatriated July 13, 2010 when the Obama administration lifted a moratorium on transfers to Yemen.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling



  • July 8, 2010: Judge Paul Friedman orders the release of Yemeni Hussein Almerfedi in a decision that was still classfiied. Almerfedi is still at Guantánamo.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling



  • July 21, 2010: Judge Reggie Walton upholds the detention of Abdul-Rahman Sulayman, a Yemeni, in a decision that was still classfiied.


  • July 21, 2010: Judge Kennedy orders the release of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, a Yemeni. Latif is still at Guantánamo.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling



  • Sept. 3, 2010: Judge John Bates upholds the indefinite detention of Afghan Shawali Khan, ruling that it was "more likely than not" that Khan was part of a Kandahar cell of Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin when he was seized in November 2002.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling



  • Sept. 15, 2010: Judge Kollar-Kotelly upholds the indefinite detention of Fayiz al Kandari, a Kuwaiti accused of being an advisor to Osama bin Laden, ruling that "it was more likely than not" that at Tora Bora during the US invasion of Afghanistan he was "lending support to al Qaeda and/or the Taliban."
    Click here to read the judge's ruling



  • Sept. 22, 2010: Judge Walton upholds the indefinite detention of Yemeni Toffiq Nasser Awad al Bihani, ruling that the Saudi-raised man trained at al Qaeda's the al-Farouq training camp, associated with al Qaeda operatives, and stayed at al Qaeda affiliated guesthouses.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling




  • Oct. 19, 2010: Judge Leon upholds the indefinite detention of military commissions candidate Afghan Obaidullah, ruling it was more likely than not "a member of of an al Qaeda bomb cell committed to the destructino of the U.S. and Allied forces.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling



  • Jan. 11, 2011: Judge Leon upholds the indefinite detention of Algerian Abdul Razak Ali, also known as Saeed Bakhouche, ruling he found it not credible that the captive did not know the alleged al Qaeda facilitator Abu Zubaydah when he was captured with him and others in the same Pakistan safehouse in March, 28, 2002.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling


  • Feb. 3, 2011: Judge Urbina upholds the indefinite detention of Saudi-born Yemeni Mashur al-Sabri, concluding that he was an al Qaeda trainee who did not quit the conflict before his capture.
    Click here to read the judge's ruling

  • updated March 11, 2011

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