ACLU Client Was Illegally Detained By U.S. For Almost Seven Years
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WASHINGTON - American Civil Liberties Union client Mohammed Jawad was released from Guantánamo and returned to Afghanistan today, ending nearly seven years of illegal detention by the U.S. In July, U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle granted Jawad's habeas corpus petition and ordered the Justice Department to release him, finding there was no credible evidence to continue holding him. Judge Huvelle had previously issued a ruling throwing out Jawad's supposed "confession" because it was the product of torture.
The Afghan Attorney General recently sent a letter to the U.S. government demanding Jawad's return and confirming that Jawad was a young teenager when he was captured in Afghanistan and illegally rendered from that country in December 2002. 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.
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 given Jawad's mistreatment and the lack of credible evidence against him.
The following can be attributed to Jonathan Hafetz, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project and one of Jawad's lawyers in his habeas corpus case:
"We are so pleased that this nightmare of abuse and injustice has finally come to an end. While Mr. Jawad can never get back the nearly seven years he was illegally detained and tortured, now he can finally return home to his family, friends and country, and begin to build a normal life.
"While Mr. Jawad's release is a long-awaited victory for the rule of law, there are many other detainees who are still being held illegally. We are hopeful that the government will act swiftly to close Guantánamo and handle all of the remaining detainees in a manner consistent with America's Constitution and its values. Any detainee suspected of a crime must be charged and tried in the federal courts, which are fully capable of handling terrorism cases. After so many years, the government should have reliable, untainted evidence against any suspect it believes is guilty. If not, it has no justification to continue imprisoning him."
The following can be attributed to U.S. Air Force Major David Frakt, co-counsel for Jawad:
"Mr. Jawad has finally returned home to celebrate Ramadan with his family after nearly seven long years away. This is a tremendous victory for justice and the rule of law. Although nothing can ever replace those lost years, fortunately this remarkable young man is still young enough to build a life for himself. He is eager to go back to school and complete his education so that he can help others in Afghan society. We're hopeful that the many other innocent men still being illegally detained at Guantanamo will also soon be released."
More information about Jawad's case is available at: www.aclu.org/jawad