Obama Administration To Transfer Gitmo Detainee to Federal Prison in United States
Perhaps to make the point that it can be done without risking U.S. lives, the Obama administration announced it will transfer Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian man indicted more than a decade ago on charges that he helped plan the 1998 bombing of the American Embassy in Tanzania. Ghailani was a fugitive until 2004, however, when he was unlucky enough to be captured amid the “war on terror.” According to one of his lawyers, David Remes, he was treated as a high-value detainee and held in a secret CIA prison, where he was likely tortured, until he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in September 2006 and subsequently indicted by the military commissions. So he now faced charges in both a U.S. federal court and before a U.S. military commission — but never got a trial.
The Obama administration is now apparently trying to fix the mess that its predecessor created, at least in this case, but it’s got a problem: can it now try a defendant arrested five years ago for a crime committed in 1998? Just last week, a lawyer for Ghailani told a federal judge that he would seek dismissal of his client’s indictment because the government has violated his right to a speedy trial under U.S. law, and blocked the lawyer from even communicating with his client since July 2008.
In 2007, Mr. Ghailani reportedly apologized before a military review panel at Guantánamo for his role in assisting the embassy bombing, which he says he didn’t know about. “It was without my knowledge what they were doing, but I helped them,” he said, according to a transcript obtained by The New York Times. He added, “I’m sorry for what happened to those families who lost, who lost their friends and their beloved ones.”