Appeals Court Rules that Circumstantial Evidence is Enough to Keep a Prisoner at Guantánamo

Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Hussain Salem Mohammad Almerfedi (photo: Department of Defense)
Circumstantial evidence is sufficient for keeping detainees behind bars at Guantánamo, according to a federal appeals court in Washington, DC.
Hussain Salem Mohammad Almerfedi of Yemen was supposed to be released from the U.S. prison, after a lower court judge found the testimony used against him was unreliable. The government appealed to the DC Court of Appeals, which overturned the ruling in part because the judges believed the claim by another detainee, Humoud al-Jadani, that Almerfedi voluntarily stayed at an al-Qaeda guesthouse was enough to keep him locked up even though the lower court had deemed al-Jadani’s testimony no more credible than “jailhouse gossip.”
Almerfedi was captured in Iran by the Iranian government after the September 11 terrorist attacks, and then turned over by the Iranians to the Afghanistan government in March 2002 in a prisoner exchange. The following year, U.S. forces moved him to Guantánamo Bay, where he has remained ever since.
The U.S. government’s case against granting Almerfedi habeas corpus rights is dependent on his acknowledgment that, in Pakistan, he stayed for two and a half months at a guesthouse run by Jama’at Tablighi, an 85-year-old Islamic missionary organization that the U.S. government has classified as a “Terrorist Support Entity” that gave financial aid to al-Qaeda. Because Almerfedi had $2,000 in cash when the Iranians captured him, the American prosecutors consider him an al-Qaeda “facilitator.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
Appeals Court Overturns Yemeni Release Order (by Nedra Pickler, Associated Press)
Hussain Salem Mohammed Almerfedi v. Obama (U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia) (pdf)


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