Supreme Court permits Guantanamo detainees' return to Algeria

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Friday declined [order, PDF] to review the decision of a lower court permitting the government to transfer Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Farhi Saeed bin Mohammed to Algeria. The 5-3 decision leaves in place a ruling [order, PDF] of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia [official website], in which the government asserted that Mohammed's return to Algeria was permissible because there was not credible evidence that he would face torture upon his arrival. Mohammed may appeal, though it is possible that he will have been returned to Algeria by that time. Later Friday, the court similarly rejected [order, PDF] the request of a second Algerian, Abdul Aziz Naji, to review his pending transfer.

The court's refusal to hear the cases lends credence to the circuit court's decision to rely upon Munaf v. Green [Duke Law backgrounder; JURIST report] in affirming the government's decision over that of a federal judge. Munaf granted the government the authority to transfer detainees to the country where their crimes are alleged to have been committed as a means by which to show deference to that country's ability to enforce its laws. A federal judge ordered [JURIST report] Mohammed's release in November. Judge Gladys Kessler of the US District Court for the District of Columbia directed the government to "take all necessary and appropriate steps to facilitate [Fari Saeed's] release forthwith." The order resulted from a civil action brought against the US government for unlawfully detaining him since 2002.

 

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