Federal Judge Orders Release Of Five Guantánamo Detainees Held Without Charges

November 20, 2008 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – A federal judge today ordered the release of five Algerian detainees who have been held at Guantánamo for nearly seven years without charges. U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon also ruled that the government may continue to hold a sixth Algerian indefinitely. These cases are the first contested challenges to the indefinite detention of Guantánamo prisoners since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision upholding the right of habeas corpus last June in Boumediene v Bush.

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union:

“Today’s decision is another nail in the coffin of the Bush administration’s lawless and failed Guantánamo policies. Under the scrutiny of a federal court, the problems with this administration’s illegal detention policies are clear. If there is in fact enough evidence to prosecute the sixth detainee who will continue to be held, he should be immediately charged in civilian court or a traditional military court where constitutional safeguards apply. It is antithetical to our constitutional principles and American values to hold people indefinitely without charge because the president says so – but it should not have taken seven years to get to this point. If the Bush administration had its way, there would have been no judicial oversight and no way to challenge cases like these. Now that President-elect Obama has reaffirmed his commitment to shut down the Guantánamo prison and its shameful military commissions, we believe that all pending cases should be tried in time-tested, federal civilian or military courts that uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.”

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