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Ex-Guantanamo detainee at center of Supreme Court case alleges torture

[JURIST] Former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee at the center of a landmark Supreme Court case Lakhdar Boumediene [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] said in an interview with ABC News [ABC report] released Monday that he was tortured by American personnel at the detention facility. Boumediene said that he was kept awake for 16 days and kept from practicing his faith. He also alleged a variety of physical abuse, including being dragged by guards if he was unable to keep up during forced runs and having his intravenous nutrition line inserted into his nose at points during a two and a half year hunger strike. In 2001, Boumediene was arrested in Sarajevo, where he worked with the Red Crescent Society [official website], on suspicion that he was involved in a plot to bomb the US and British embassies in the Bosnian capitol. Boumediene said that he was not asked about this alleged plot during his seven years at Guantanamo, but rather was repeatedly asked about his affiliation with al Qaeda and connection with Osama bin Laden [JURIST news archive]. Boumediene was the named plaintiff in the US Supreme Court's 2008 case Boumediene v. Bush [opinion, PDF; JURIST report], in which the Court held that Guantanamo detainees could challenge their imprisonment in federal court through the use of habeas corpus motions. Last month, Boumediene was released and sent to France [DOJ press release; JURIST report].

Boumediene's case was one of several challenges to the Guantanamo Bay facility brought by detainees that were heard by the Supreme Court. In 2006, Salim Hamdan [JURIST news archive] successfully challenged the military commission system [opinion, PDF] used to try Guantanamo detainees, with the Supreme Court ruling that the system as initially constructed violated US and international law. Congress subsequently passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [DOD materials], which established the current military commissions system. Hamdan was transferred to Yemen [JURIST report] in November to serve the remainder of his sentence [JURIST report], reduced by a military judge from five-and-a-half years to six months after crediting for time served. In 2004, Yaser Hamdi [JURIST news archive], a former American citizen captured in Afghanistan, challenged his two year detention without charges. The Supreme Court held [opinion text] that US courts had jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus petitions filed by Guantanamo detainees, and that the government could detain those properly classified as "enemy combatants" indefinitely. Hamdi was released to Saudi Arabia [JURIST report], where he renounced his American citizenship.

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