Government Abandons Reliance On Tortured Evidence In Habeas Case Of Guantánamo Detainee
No Credible Evidence To Continue Holding Mohammed Jawad, Says ACLU
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NEW YORK – The government today stated it would no longer rely on evidence obtained through torture and other coercion in the habeas corpus case challenging the unlawful detention of Guantánamo detainee Mohammed Jawad. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion on July 1 to suppress Jawad's statements, and today the Justice Department announced it would not oppose that motion.
"We commend the government for halting its reliance on evidence obtained through torture and other abuse in Mr. Jawad's habeas case," said Jonathan Hafetz, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project and a lawyer for Jawad. "Now it is time to send Jawad home to Afghanistan because there is no credible evidence against him. Nearly seven years of unlawful detention is long enough."
The judge in Jawad's military commission trial previously suppressed statements made by Jawad to Afghan and U.S. officials following his arrest, finding that they were the product of torture. However, the government had continued to rely on those same statements in Jawad's habeas corpus challenge, as well as other statements obtained through Jawad's continued abuse at Bagram and at Guantánamo.
Following his 2002 arrest in Afghanistan for allegedly throwing a grenade at two U.S. soldiers and their interpreter, Jawad was subjected to repeated torture and other mistreatment and to a systematic program of harsh and highly coercive interrogations designed to break him physically and mentally. Eventually, Jawad tried to commit suicide in his cell by slamming his head repeatedly against the wall.
The Afghan government recently sent a letter to the U.S. government demanding Jawad's return and suggesting he was as young as 12 when he was captured in Afghanistan and illegally rendered from that country almost seven years ago.
"After more than six and a half years in illegal detention, the government has finally recognized a basic truth – that the statements wrung from Mr. Jawad in Afghanistan and at Guantánamo during more than 50 interrogations do not remotely meet the standard for admissibility in a real court of law. I look forward to bringing Mohammed home to his family shortly," said U.S. Air Force Major David Frakt, a lawyer for Jawad. "Unfortunately, the use of tortured and coerced evidence is still at issue in many other cases. I am hopeful that today's announcement reflects a broader commitment to return to the rule of law and cease reliance on the fruits of torture and abuse as a justification for indefinite detention."
Attorneys on Jawad's habeas case are Hafetz, Frakt, and Arthur Spitzer of the ACLU of the National Capital Area.
Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, the former lead prosecutor in Jawad's military commission case, resigned from the case because he didn't believe he could ethically proceed with it. His declaration in support of the ACLU's position is online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/detention/38370lgl20090112.html
More about Jawad's case is available online at: www.aclu.org/jawad