January 17, 2014

Appeals court rejects damages bid by ex-Gitmo detainee

An appeals court on Friday rejected a damages claim filed by a former detainee at Guantánamo Bay.

An appeals court on Friday rejected a bid for compensation filed by a former detainee once held by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay.

In a 20-page, unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit turned back the appeal of Rahim Abdul Razak al Janko.

He is a Syrian citizen who alleges that he traveled to Afghanistan in January 2000. Shortly thereafter, the appeals court summed up, "the Taliban forced him to confess to spying for the United States and Israel and imprisoned him in Kandahar, where he was tortured by his Taliban captors" until U.S. forces liberated the prison

"Allegedly on the basis of misinterpreted intelligence, however, U.S. officials identified the Appellant as an enemy combatant," the appeals court summed up. "He alleges that, for the next seven years, U.S. officials subjected him to torture, physical and psychological degradation and other forms of mistreatment."

Janko was freed and sent to Belgium in 2009. He subsequently sued over his treatment.

The appellate court, in a decision written by Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, concluded that Congress had expressly prohibited lawsuits like this from individuals who had previously been deemed by a Combatant Status Review Panel to be "properly detained."

Two tribunals made such a determination during Janko's imprisonment.

"The statute does not say that the (lawsuit) bar applies to an alien whom 'the United States has properly determined to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant," the appeals court stated. "It requires only that the Executive Branch determine that the (Authorization for Use of Military Force) authorizes the alien’s detention without regard to the determination’s correctness."



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