Prisoners held in Afghanistan can challenge detention: US court

April 3rd, 2009 - 11:39 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, April 3 (DPA) A US federal court ruled Thursday that a group of prisoners being held by the US forces in Afghanistan have the right to challenge their detentions in courts, in a blow to the powers of President Barack Obama’s new administration.
Judge John Bates, of the district court in the US capital Washington, ruled the cases of three prisoners being held at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan are “virtually identical” to those being held at the controversial prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Obama has pushed through a series of dramatic shifts to former president George W. Bush’s policies in the war against terrorism, pledging to close Guantanamo within a year and bring charges against many of its prisoners in US courts.

But the administration argued different rules applied to detainees in Afghanistan, because the prisoners were being held in a “theatre of war”. Bates rejected that argument because many of the prisoners had been brought to Bagram from other countries.

The three prisoners, two Yemenis and one Tunisian national, all claim they were captured outside of Afghanistan and transferred to Bargram, where they have been held for more than six years.

Bates said all three should be granted so-called “habeus corpus” rights to challenge their detentions, following a similar Supreme Court ruling last year that applied to Guantanamo inmates. An appeal by a fourth prisoner, an Afghan national, was rejected.

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