On Friday, Judge Royce Lamberth for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] ordered the release of Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] prisoner Ibrahim Idris [DOD backgrounder], who suffers from a severe mental illness. Idris, originally from Sudan, was sent to Guantanamo more than 11 years ago after being captured with other Al Qaeda fighters trying to cross the Afghan border. Within weeks of his arrival, Idris was diagnosed with Disorganized Type Schizophrenia [USNLM backgrounder]. Since that time, he has spent much of his detention in a psychiatric facility. Idris is accused of serving as both a fighter and a doctor with Al Qaeda, as well as having ties to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US. The Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] has been opposing his release and could still appeal [Reuters report] the decision. The filing did not provide reasoning for the judge's decision.
Controversies surrounding Guantanamo Bay have been prevalent since the US began using it as a detention center in 2002. Earlier this month, A military judge refused to suspend the pretrial hearings in a case against five Guantanamo Bay prisoners, despite computer system concerns [JURIST reports]. In September, detainee Shaker Aamer [JURIST news archive] filed [JURIST report] a complaint against British security forces for delaying his scheduled release from Guantanamo. Days before, it was announced [JURIST report] that there would no longer be daily updates on detainee hunger strikes. Earlier that month, a federal judge ruled [JURIST report] that the US government did not have to release photographs and videotapes taken during the investigation of Mohammed al-Qahtani. Guest Columnist Caitlin McNamara has also discussed the issues surrounding the detention center in a recent article [JURIST op-ed].