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Another Victory for Gitmo Prisoner: Score Is Detainees 30, U.S. 7

Late Thursday, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., granted yet another detainee at Guantanamo Bay the right to go free. That makes 30 out of 37 habeas corpus cases decided so far in which Guantanamo prisoners have won orders for their release. In each case, a federal judge has concluded, after reviewing all of the government’s evidence, that there is no justification for continuing to keep the detainee behind bars.

Yesterday’s ruling appears to be another case where, like in the case of Mohammed Jawad, the government’s primary evidence was based on coerced confessions following abusive interrogations, according to the detainee’s lawyers. (An unclassified version of the judge’s opinion laying out her reasoning is not yet available.) It’s also the second case in which a Guantanamo detainee who faced a war crimes charge by a U.S. military commission has been ordered freed.

In the habeas corpus petition granted yesterday, Fouad Mahmoud Al Rabiah, a 50-year-old Kuwaiti aeronautics engineer and businessman, claims he went to Afghanistan in 2001 to do charitable work in accordance with the requirements of Islam. But he was kidnapped and held hostage by the Northern Alliance, he says, which turned him over to U.S. authorities, which then sent him to Guantanamo Bay where he was imprisoned and interrogated for the next seven years.

The United States claimed Al Rabiah provided “material support” to the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and had met several times with Osama bin Laden, which Al Rabiah denied. At a hearing last month, according to the Miami Herald, Al Rabiah’s lawyers argued that U.S. soldiers had coerced and abused their client into falsely confessing that he ran a supply depot for al-Qaeda fighters in the Battle of Tora Bora in Afghanistan in December 2001. In fact, they argued, the U.S. military had confused Al Rabiah with another man who shared the same nickname. That man was killed by American air strikes.

Yesterday, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly apparently found the government’s evidence against Al Rabiah unconvincing, and ordered it “to take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps to facilitate the release of Petitioner Al Rabiah forthwith.”

I’ll report back with more details when an unclassified version of the judge’s opinion is made available, which she said yesterday should be released by Sept. 25.

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