FSRN: Bagram Prisoners Challenge Detention in US Federal Court
Free Speech Radio News - Published online on September 17, 2013

Several prisoners held for more than a decade by the US government at Bagram prison in Afghanistan are challenging their detention in a Washington, DC court. Known as “the other Guantanamo,” the US turned over partial control to Afghan authorities last year but continues to detain a number of people without charge, including two men from Yemen, one from Tunisia and a teenager from Pakistan. Attorneys with international human rights groups argued for their clients release in a DC federal court today, saying they were illegally rendered into a war zone and are now being denied due process. FSRN’s Alice Ollstein was at the court hearing this morning and brings us this report.

Audio Now Available for Oral Arguments Held Sep. 17, 2013, in Landmark Bagram Detainee Cases

September 17, 2013, New York, N.Y. -- Today oral arguments were held before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Al Maqaleh v. Obama, Amanatullah v. Obama, and Hamidullah v. Obama: cases on behalf of non-Afghan prisoners whom the U.S. forcibly rendered to Afghanistan many years ago for indefinite imprisonment by the U.S. military at Bagram Air Base without charge or trial.  The International Justice Network and co-counsel represent the petitioners in Al Maqaleh and Amanatullah. Listen to the audio for Al Maqaleh here, the audio for Amanatullah here, and the audio for Hamidullah here.

Oral Arguments in Landmark Bagram Detainee Cases on Sep. 17, 2013



The appellate oral arguments in al-Maqaleh v. Obama are open to the public and will take place on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 9:30 a.m. in Courtroom 31 of the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse and William B. Bryant Annex of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 333 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001.

September 12, 2013, New York, N.Y. -- The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals  will hear oral arguments on Tuesday, September 17,  in litigation brought by the International Justice Network (IJN) and co-counsel on behalf of three non-Afghan citizens whom the U.S. government forcibly rendered to Afghanistan ten years ago, for indefinite imprisonment at Bagram Air Base without charge or trial.  The case is  named al-Maqaleh, et al., v. Obama, and asks whether the U.S. government can continue to use Bagram as the “other Guantánamo” to imprison individuals indefinitely in U.S. custody without access to legal counsel or courts.

The three petitioners in the case are Fadi al-Maqaleh, Amin al-Bakri, and Redha al-Najar.  Each man has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, seeking to challenge the legality of his prolonged arbitrary imprisonment without trial in Afghanistan.

IJN initially filed the case on behalf of Mr. al-Maqaleh in 2006 -- the first legal challenge of its kind on behalf of a Bagram prisoner.   Mr. al-Maqaleh is a 31-year-old Yemeni  citizen who was transferred in approximately 2004 from the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq to Bagram, where he has been unjustly held ever since.

In 2008, IJN and co-counsel filed similar habeas petitions on behalf of Mr. al- Bakri and Mr. al-Najar.

Mr. al-Bakri  is a 44-year-old Yemeni father of three, who was disappeared while on a routine business trip to Thailand, tortured at secret CIA “black sites,” and then forcibly rendered to Bagram in approximately 2003.  IJN co-counsel, Main Street Legal Services, the legal clinic of the City University of New York School of Law, is lead counsel on Mr. al-Bakri’s case.

Mr. al-Najar  is a 47-year-old Tunisian who was abducted from his home in Pakistan, where he was living with his wife and small child.  He was initially detained and tortured at secret CIA “black sites,” before being forcibly rendered to Bagram in approximately 2003.  The Law Office of Sylvia Royce is lead counsel on Mr. al-Najar’s case.

Despite being cleared for release by a U.S. military “Detainee Review Board,” all three men continue to languish at Bagram.

In 2009, the cases were consolidated before Judge John D. Bates in the D.C. District Court.  Judge Bates found that each man had the right to challenge his detention in U.S. courts.  However, the Obama administration appealed the decision to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals -- which overturned Judge Bates’ ruling in May 2010.

By February 2011, the cases made their way back to Judge Bates on the basis of new evidence that was not yet on the record when the Court of Appeals issued its 2010 ruling.    In response to the government’s request to dismiss the cases, however, Judge Bates ruled in October 2012 that the new evidence presented by the Maqaleh petitioners was not enough to overcome the Court of Appeals’ prior reasoning that U.S . courts lacked jurisdiction over the cases.

The Maqaleh petitioners subsequently appealed the dismissals, and the cases are now before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for the second time.

You can read the Maqaleh petitioners’ opening appellate brief here, the government’s brief here, and the Maqaleh petitioners’ reply brief here.

Since 2006, IJN has been advocating for the legal rights of Bagram prisoners.  You can learn more about IJN’s work here.


Mahdis Keshavarz



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