September 24, 2014, New York, NY. Amanatullah Ali has finally been released from Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, where he was imprisoned by the U.S. military for nearly a decade without charge or trial. On September 20, 2014, he was transferred to the custody and control of the Pakistani government, and arrived in Pakistan the same day. Amanatullah has been represented by the International Justice Network (IJN) and Lewis Baach PLLC for the past five years, but was held virtually incommunicado and never allowed to communicate directly with his attorneys during his imprisonment at Bagram; the U.S. government consistently denied his requests to do so.
Amanatullah’s ordeal began in 2004, when he was detained in Iraq by British National Forces. He was subsequently transferred to the exclusive custody and control of the U.S. military, which rendered him to Afghanistan in breach of the Geneva Conventions. Amanatullah, a rice merchant and father of five, was not involved in any hostilities against British or U.S. forces, and he strongly denies any affiliation with al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Nonetheless, he has never been afforded a fair opportunity to challenge his imprisonment, and the U.S. military has never been required to comply with due process in order to justify his imprisonment.
IJN and Lewis Baach PLLC first brought litigation on behalf of Amanatullah in U.S. courts in 2010. Since that time, they have argued before the district and circuit courts of the District of Columbia that it is unconstitutional to detain Amanatullah indefinitely without charge, access to legal counsel, or a meaningful opportunity to challenge his imprisonment. Both courts dismissed Amanatullah’s case, ruling that U.S. courts had no jurisdiction to hear his challenge to detention by the United States Government as long as it held him in Afghanistan. IJN and Lewis Baach PLLC filed a petition for writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court on August 11, 2014, asking the Court to hear Amanatullah’s case. Habeas corpus – the right to challenge the legality of one’s imprisonment before a court – is a basic protection currently afforded to prisoners at Guantánamo but not Bagram.
Amanatullah’s release comes on the heels of the repatriation of two Yemeni nationals also represented by IJN. “We are overjoyed that Amanatullah is finally free from the cruel and unrelenting nightmare that is Bagram, and we hope that he is reunited with his family soon,” says Caitlin Steinke, staff attorney with IJN. “The men imprisoned at Bagram are fathers, husbands, and sons who have been suffering in a legal black hole for years. We will continue to fight to end the indefinite detention of our clients still suffering at Bagram.”