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Federal judge orders US to give attorney access to Guantanamo prisoner

[JURIST] A federal magistrate has ordered the Bush administration to stop blocking a private attorney from meeting with Salim Muhood Adem, one of the 490 detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. Adem, a Sudanese national arrested in Pakistan, asked for a lawyer in late 2004 by having another prisoner request help through his own attorney. Murray Fogler was named attorney for Adem through the Center for Constitutional Rights [advocacy website], but the government insisted on written authorization from Adem before allowing Adem’s attorney to meet with him. Complying with the government’s demand proved difficult without face-to-face contact because the nonlegal military mail system can take months to deliver a letter, which is subject to review and censorship. The government barred Fogler from using the military’s swift delivery system for legal mail, refusing to acknowledge Fogler’s authority to represent Adem. Kay wrote:

It appears that attempts to inform detainees of their rights in writing have been, at best, fraught with difficulty. Furthermore, the Protective Order clearly provides that counsel for Adem may meet with him twice before they are obliged to provide evidence of authority to represent him. Considering the lack of any possible prejudice to the Government from allowing Adem to confirm his desire for representation in person rather than in writing and weighing the importance of Adem's right to counsel, which he has been attempting to exercise for over a year, Respondents are ordered to comply with the Protective Order and allow Adem's counsel to meet with him in person as soon as possible.
The US last summer undertook to challenge the right of detainees to request legal representation for others as "next friends." Read the CCR press release. Eleven detainee cases are at a standstill as a result of this policy; meanwhile the Bush administration is seeking to retroactively apply to existing detainees provisions of the Detainee Treatment Act [text] purportedly barring detainees from filing habeas corpus petitions on their own behalfs. AP has more.

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