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Judge rules religious liberty lawsuit by former Guantanamo detainees can proceed

[JURIST] US District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina [official profile] has ruled that a lawsuit against US officials brought by four British citizens formerly held at Guantanamo who claim their religious freedoms were infringed during detention may go forward. Urbina found that because the Religious Freedom Restoration Act [text] applies to territories and possessions of the United States, it applies not only to government action within the continental US but to areas such at the US Naval station at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay where the US "exercises perhaps as much control as it possibly could short of 'ultimate sovereignty." The 1993 Act declares that the government may not "substantially burden a person's exercise of religion" except in specified instances.

The four men, who claim they were captured while providing humanitarian relief in Afghanistan post-9/11, have sued [Guardian report] US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld [official profile] along with 10 US military commanders claiming they suffered harassment, were forced to shave their religious beards, and watch as a guard desecrated the Koran [US military rules for Koran treatment, PDF]. They are seeking $10 million in damages. AP has more.

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