US Government Refers Charges Against USS Cole Suspect Al-Nashiri at Guantánamo

For Immediate Release

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James Freedland, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666; media@aclu.org

US Government Refers Charges Against USS Cole Suspect Al-Nashiri at Guantánamo

ACLU Calls Move an 11th Hour Stunt to Tie Obama’s Hands

WASHINGTON - In
one of its final moves at the Guantánamo military commissions, the Bush
administration referred charges in the capital case of detainee Abd
al-Rahim Hussain Mohammed al-Nashiri, who is being charged for his
alleged involvement in crimes including the USS Cole bombing. The
American Civil Liberties Union is sponsoring civilian attorneys to
represent al-Nashiri through its John Adams Project, a partnership with
the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to supplement the
under-resourced military defense teams that have been assigned to
Guantánamo detainees.

"The timing of the referral of these
charges is extremely suspect. What we are seeing is another 11th hour
stunt from the Bush administration to tie the hands of the incoming
president," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU.
"Just this week, the Defense Department announced it is making plans to
shut down Guantánamo and end these sham military commissions. While
President-elect Obama is planning to end eight years of shameful
policies that allowed torture and violations of domestic and
international law, the Bush administration is desperately trying to
extend it." 

Now that Susan Crawford, the
military commissions' convening authority, decided to "refer the
charges" for prosecution, al-Nashiri is required to appear before the
military commission within 30 days for an arraignment.

The military commissions allow
convictions based on secret evidence, hearsay, and evidence derived
from torture including waterboarding, a technique the government has
acknowledged it used on al-Nashiri.

"This is the last gasp by an
administration unwilling to accept the fact that this illegitimate
system has failed," said Nancy Hollander, an attorney from the ACLU's
John Adams Project who is representing al-Nashiri. "The government has
admitted to using torture, specifically waterboarding, to extract
statements from Mr. al-Nashiri and then destroying the videotapes of
his interrogations. One must suspect the motive of charging him now on
the eve of a new administration after incarcerating him for six years
without charges."

For more information on the John Adams Project, see: www.aclu.org/johnadams

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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