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US stays proceedings against Yemeni Guantanamo detainee pending transfer

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] granted a joint motion [text, PDF] Monday for a stay of proceedings against Yemeni Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Ayman Saeed Batarfi, allowing for his eventual transfer. Batarfi, one of the longest held terror suspects at the military prison, had been detained without charges as an enemy combatant [JURIST news archive] since his 2001 capture at the Battle of Tora Bora [BBC report] in Afghanistan. He had been detained for alleged association with al Qaeda forces during the battle, but his lawyers argued that he had been forced to administer medical treatment to al Qaeda forces. After a review of his case, the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] agreed that it did not have grounds to hold Batarfi, and joined in the motion to end proceedings against him. The US is currently searching for an appropriate destination country for Batarfi, and his release date has not been set.

The announcement follows a call by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Sunday for the US and Yemen [JURIST news archive] to agree on a repatriation plan that provides "meaningful legal process" for the nearly 100 Yemeni detainees still at Guantanamo Bay. The repartiation plan dates back to July 2008, when Yemeni officials met with a visiting US delegation [JURIST report] to discuss the possible transfer of Yemeni detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, with the US voicing concerns that they would be freed upon their return. The stay of proceedings against Batarfi follows a January executive order [text; JURIST report] from US President Barack Obama [official profile] directing the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility within one year and a review and disposition of all individuals held at the facility.

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