Afghan ‘Enemy Combatants’ Can Argue Detention in US Courts, Judge Rules
Posted Apr 2, 2009 4:02 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
After being held for six years without trial as "enemy combatants" at a United States military base airfield in Afghanistan, three prisoners in the war on terror can challenge their detention in U.S. courts, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., has decided.
The government, which had sought to distinguish the case from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year concerning detainees held at a U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, argued that the U.S. Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan is located in a dangerous war zone. But in a 53-page habeas corpus ruling, U.S. District Judge John Bates sided with the three detainees and said the situation at Gitmo and at the Bagram base is comparable, reports the Washington Post.
The ruling was limited to its facts, however, the New York Times reports. Bates wrote, the newspaper summarizes, that "whether any particular overseas detainee has habeas corpus rights would depend on a case-by-case analysis of several factors, including citizenship, location of capture, length of detention, and the degree to which the United States military has total control over its prisons."
Nonetheless,"this is a great day for American justice," says attorney Ramzi Kassem, who represents one of the Afghan detainees in the in the District of Columbia case. "Today, a U.S. federal judge ruled that our government cannot simply kidnap people and hold them beyond the law."
In a written statement, the U.S. Department of Justice says the government is reviewing the opinion and U.S. detention policies. Whether the Obama administration will appeal the decision hasn't yet been decided.
Los Angeles Times: "Afghanistan 'enemy combatants' can make their case in U.S. court, judge says"
Reuters: "Judge rules Afghan detainees can sue in US court"
Updated at 6:13 p.m. to accord with updated Washington Post coverage.