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Federal judge reinstates Gitmo habeas petitions, restoring detainee access to lawyers

[JURIST] A federal judge Friday overturned his previous ruling [CCR press release] dismissing 16 lawsuits challenging the indefinite detention of about 40 terror suspects detained at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST report], in the process avoiding new limitations on lawyers' access to their clients at the US military prison. US District Court Judge Ricardo Urbina reinstated the petitions of habeas corpus after lawyers for the detainees asked him to reconsider his holding. Urbina's initial dismissal of the habeas challenges pending expected December Supreme Court hearings in Al Odah v. United States and Boumediene v. Bush had rendered invalid protocols governing lawyers' access to detainees and had prompted Department of Justice officials to bar further access until the lawyers agreed to new restrictions allegedly required by security concerns. In issuing his new holding Friday, Urbina expressed concern at the DOJ manoeuvring.

Last month, a DOJ lawyer informed [JURIST report] detainees' counsel that they would no longer be able to visit with or send written communications to their clients. The DOJ created a series of steps for lawyers wishing to resume contact with detainees, but one detainee lawyer, Wells Dixon, called the measures "the latest example of the government's efforts to frustrate counsel access to detainees." More recently, the DOJ formally allowed [JURIST report] fourteen "high-value" terrorism suspects the right to request lawyers. AP has more.

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