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Lawyers for Guantánamo Prisoner in Court to Defend Successful Challenge to Detention
Appeals Court Should Uphold Ruling That Salahi Be Released, Says ACLU
WASHINGTON - September 17 - The American Civil Liberties Union and attorneys from the law firm Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Ives & Duncan P.A. today urged a federal appeals court to uphold Guantánamo prisoner Mohamedou Ould Salahi's successful challenge to his unlawful detention. A federal judge ordered Salahi, who was captured far from any battlefield, never took part in any hostilities or attack against the U.S. and has been in U.S. custody for nine years, released from Guantánamo in March on the grounds that he was being held unlawfully. The U.S. government is appealing that ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
"After reviewing thousand of pages of records and hearing four days of testimony - including from Mr. Salahi himself - the district court correctly found that the government did not have enough evidence to support subjecting Mr. Salahi to indefinite military detention," said Theresa Duncan of the law firm Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Ives & Duncan P.A., who argued the case today. "The appeals court should uphold that ruling. It is well past time for Mr. Salahi to go home."
After being arrested in Mauritania in 2001 on suspicion of ties to al Qaeda, Salahi was rendered by the U.S. government to Jordan, where he was detained, interrogated and abused for eight months. He was then rendered to Bagram, Afghanistan and finally to Guantánamo, where he has been held since August 2002.
While at Guantánamo, Salahi was held in total isolation for months, kept in a freezing cold cell, shackled to the floor, sexually abused by female interrogators, deprived of food, made to drink salt water, forced to stand in a room with strobe lights and heavy metal music for hours at a time, threatened with harm to his family, forbidden from praying, beaten and subjected to the "frequent flyer" program, during which he was awakened every few hours and moved to a new cell. Salahi's abuse was confirmed and well documented in a 2009 Senate Armed Service Committee report that investigated allegations of detainee abuse at Guantánamo.
Marine Corps Lt. Col. Stuart Couch, a military lawyer originally assigned to prosecute the case against Salahi in the military commissions, determined that the defendant's self-incriminating statements were so tainted by torture that they couldn't ethically be used against him. Couch told his supervisors that he was "morally opposed" to Salahi's treatment and for that reason he refused to participate in the prosecution.
"Mr. Salahi's treatment presents a case study of all that is wrong with Guantánamo. Upholding the order directing his release would demonstrate the vital role of the courts in remedying these wrongs and restoring the rule of law," said Jonathan Hafetz, cooperating attorney for the ACLU.
In addition to Duncan and Hafetz, attorneys on the case are Melissa Goodman and Jonathan Manes of the ACLU National Security Project; Nancy Hollander of Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Ives & Duncan P.A. and Linda Moreno of Linda Moreno P.A.