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US military judge denies Hamdan lawyers access to top terror suspects

[JURIST] A US military judge Wednesday denied a request by lawyers for Yemeni Guantanamo Bay detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan [Trial Watch profile; JURIST news archive] to meet with top terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, citing security concerns. Lawyers had hoped that the suspects, including alleged Sept. 11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC profile], would be allowed to testify that Hamdan was not a devoted member of al-Qaeda and should not be tried as an enemy combatant under the US military tribunal system. A pretrial hearing for Hamdan was scheduled to be held on Wednesday. AP has more.

In October, the US Supreme Court declined to review Hamdan's appeal [JURIST report] challenging the constitutionality of the military commission system. Hamdan was allegedly a driver for Osama bin Laden before his capture and incarceration at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] and last year successfully challenged President George W. Bush's military commission system when the Supreme Court ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that the commission system as initially constituted violated US and international law. Congress subsequently passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [JURIST news archive], but Hamdan argued that the current law still violates his rights. He had hoped the Supreme Court would consider his case along with those of other detainees challenging their detention at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST report]. On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the consolidated cases of Boumediene v. Bush (06-1195) [docket; merit briefs] and Al Odah v. United States (06-1196) [docket; merit briefs] on whether detainees at Guantanamo Bay should be allowed to challenge their detentions in federal court.

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