October 28, 2008

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GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba – A military judge ruled today that the government cannot use statements made as a result of torture in the military commission case against Afghan national Mohammed Jawad. The judge held that Jawad's alleged confession to throwing a grenade at two U.S. service members and an Afghan interpreter was obtained after armed Afghan officials threatened to kill Jawad and his family. The government had previously told the judge that Jawad's alleged confession while in Afghan custody was central to the case against him.

The following can be attributed to Hina Shamsi, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union National Security Project:

"We welcome the judge's decision that death threats constitute torture and that evidence obtained as a result must be excluded from trial. Unfortunately, evidence obtained through torture and coercion is pervasive in military commission cases that, by design, disregard the most fundamental due process rights, and no single decision can cure that."

Jawad, now about 23, has been in custody since he was captured at the age of 16 or 17 and is one of two Guantánamo prisoners the United States is prosecuting for acts allegedly committed when they were juveniles.

The ACLU is currently at Guantánamo as an independent observer and has been present at nearly every military commission hearing since 2004.

Additional information about the ACLU's work related to the detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay can be found online at: www.aclu.org/gitmo

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