Thursday, July 30, 2009


Judge Orders Release of Young Detainee at Guantánamo

How old was this Afghan youth when arrested? We don't know, but he's grown 5 inches since he was placed in Guantanamo. Government lawyers disagree, saying a bone density test showed he was age 17--virtually full grown--when arrested. So why did he grow so much?

Judge Orders Release of Young Detainee at Guantánamo
New York Times
July 30, 2009

WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Thursday ordered that one of the youngest detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, be released by late August in a case that drew wide attention because of rulings that he had been tortured by Afghan officials and abused in American custody.

Mohamed Jawad

“Enough has been imposed on this young man to date,” the judge, Ellen Segal Huvelle, said in a courtroom crowded with people drawn by what had become a confrontation between the judge and the Obama administration...

The ruling on Thursday came after a concession by the government last week that it could no longer defend Mr. Jawad’s military detention in the habeas corpus case before Judge Huvelle. She had declared that the administration’s case for continuing his detention after nearly seven years was “riddled with holes” and that virtually all of the government’s evidence came from confessions he made after being threatened with death...

Mr. Jawad’s military lawyer, Maj. David J. R. Frakt, said he would file court challenges to any effort by the administration to move his client to the United States to face charges. But Major Frakt conceded that the Aug. 21 deadline Judge Huvelle gave the government to send Mr. Jawad to Afghanistan also gave prosecutors time to work on a grand jury investigation.

“We have won the battle,” he said outside the federal courthouse here. “Have we won the war? Perhaps it remains to be seen.”

The Obama administration had asked for the 22 days to comply with a recently passed provision requiring that Congress be given 15-days notice of any detainee transfer. The administration said it needed an additional week to prepare the notice.

Mr. Jawad’s age is unknown, but his lawyers say he was 14 or 15 at the time of the grenade attack. Military prosecutors have been pursuing war crimes charges against Mr. Jawad in the military commission system at Guantánamo. But their case foundered after a military judge ruled last year that it was largely based on confessions Mr. Jawad gave after being tortured...

Judge Orders Obama Administration To Release Young Gitmo Detainee
July 30, 2009
By Frank James

Federal Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle ordered the Obama Administration to release Mohammed Jawad, a youth who essentially grew up in Guantanamo after being seized by U.S. troops in Aghanistan.

NPR's Ari Shapiro reports:

.... Jawad was in his early teens when Americans picked him up in Afghanistan. During his seven years at Guantanamo he has grown five inches, according to his lawyers.

The Justice Department says it needs a week to finalize an agreement with the Afghan government about returning Jawad to his family in Afghanistan.

Then the Administration must give Congress two weeks' notice.

So Jawad could be home by August 21st at the earliest.

But the Attorney General has not ruled out indicting him, either.

Judge Huvelle urged against that.

She said there would be serious speedy trial problems, since he's been in custody for so long.

Huvelle said Jawad may not be competent to stand trial, since he was tortured.

He was originally accused of wounding American soldiers by throwing a grenade at them.

Huvelle told government lawyers, "enough has been imposed on this young man to date."

Judge Orders Young Guantanamo Detainee's Release
By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post
July 30, 2009

...The lead prosecutor at Jawad's military commission hearing, Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, resigned because he said the evidence against Jawad was obtained

...Given the uncertainty about Jawad’s age at the time of his arrest and the ambiguity about his alleged actions, his indefinite detention as an enemy combatant has become a notorious example of the abuses associated with President George W. Bush’s detention policies.

“U.S. personnel at Bagram [Air base in Afghanistan, where Jawad was detained after his arrest] subjected Mr. Jawad to beatings, forced him into painful ’stress positions,’ deprived him of sleep, forcibly hooded him, placed him in physical and linguistic isolation, pushed him down stairs, chained him to a wall for prolonged periods, and subjected him to threats, including threats to kill him, [his family], and other intimidation,” the ACLU said in a July 1 legal brief.

“While in an isolation cell, Mr. Jawad remained hooded and restrained with handcuffs. Guards made him stand up and, if Mr. Jawad sat down, he was beaten. Guards also kicked Mr. Jawad and made him fall over, as he was wearing leg shackles and was unable to take large steps. Sometimes guards fastened Mr. Jawad’s handcuffs to the door of his isolation cell so that he was unable to sit down.”

U.S. authorities later transported Jawad to Guantanamo, where he was subjected to the notorious “frequent flyer” sleep deprivation program and other harsh interrogation methods, his lawyers said. Eventually, Jawad tried to commit suicide in his cell by slamming his head repeatedly against the wall.

U.S. Air Force Major David Frakt, another attorney representing Jawad, said, “It is astonishing that even after conceding that the bulk of the evidence against Mr. Jawad was obtained through torture, the government is even considering proceeding with its bankrupt case. It is long past time to return Jawad home to his native Afghanistan in the face of the absence of any evidence against him.”...

A military judge, Army Col. Stephen R. Henley, threw out the statements to Afghan police after he determined that the interrogators had threatened to kill Jawad or his family if he didn't confess.

The judge also tossed out statements that Jawad gave that night to U.S. soldiers because his fears of being harmed "had not dissipated." The case received publicity last year when a military prosecutor quit his post over Jawad's treatment.

The former prosecutor also called for the detainee's release. At a hearing two weeks ago, Huvelle sharply criticized the government's evidence, saying it was "riddled with holes."


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