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Federal appeals court dismisses torture lawsuit by ex-Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled [PDF text] Friday that four former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees do not have the right to sue high-ranking government officials for alleged torture and infringement of religious practice during their captivity. UK citizens Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed and Jamal Al-Harith filed the lawsuit [case backgrounder; JURIST report] in 2004 against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Meyers, and others alleging [complaint] "deliberate and foreseeable action taken ... to flout or evade the United States Constitution, federal statutory law, United States treaty obligations and long established norms of customary international law." The court affirmed the district court's ruling dismissing the plaintiff's claims under the Alien Tort Statute [text] for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court dismissed the plaintiffs' claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act [text], finding that they did not have the right to sue for infringement of religious rights because they are aliens who were not in the US at the time of the alleged acts.

The plaintiffs were released from Guantanamo in March 2004. In May 2004, Rasul and Iqbal said in an open letter to US President George W. Bush that they had suffered abuse at Guantanamo [JURIST report] similar to that perpetrated at Abu Ghraib [JURIST news archive] prison in Iraq. The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights, which said Friday that it would appeal the decision [press release]. Reuters has more.

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