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Judge Allows Government to Appeal (and Delay) Bagram Detainee Case

On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge John Bates allowed the Obama administration to immediately appeal the cases of three detainees at the Bagram prison in Afghanistan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Bates had ruled in April that the three detainees — all captured outside of Afghanistan and sent to the U.S.-run prison, where they’ve been imprisoned without charge or trial for seven years — had a right to challenge their detention through habeas corpus proceedings in a U.S. court. Bates found that their situation was substantially similar to that of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

The Obama administration has fought against that position, insisting that none of the prisoners held by U.S. forces at the Bagram air base have any constitutional rights. The Justice Department asked for the right to immediately appeal the decision to the court of appeals.

The judge granted that request on Monday on the grounds that the case presents “substantial grounds for difference of opinion” meriting an appeal, and “fundamental constitutional questions” that weigh in favor of staying the case — and delaying any action in favor of the detainees — until the appeal is decided.

The lawyers for the detainees were dismayed. “At this point, there can be no doubt that despite President Obama’s rhetoric regarding the closure of Guantanamo, his administration claims the right to use Bagram to imprison people indefinitely and deny them human rights,” said Tina Monshipour Foster, executive director of the International Justice Network, which represents the Bagram detainees, in a prepared statement. “It’s an outrage that rather than let our clients have their day in court, this administration has chosen instead to defend and perpetuate Bush administration policies.”

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