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Federal judge denies release to Yemeni and Tunisian Guantanamo detainees
Federal judge denies release to Yemeni and Tunisian Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] Judge Richard Leon [official profile] for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] on Tuesday ruled that the US government could continue to hold Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees Hisham Sliti and Moath Hamza Ahmed al Alwi [decisions, PDF]. Both men had filed habeas corpus petitions challenging their detention, but Leon found that the government had met its burden of showing that the men were being lawfully detained under the court's definition of "enemy combatant" [JURIST report]. The judge cited undisclosed, classified evidence against the men in both cases, and in his ruling against al Alwi, wrote that government did not have to show that the men had personally engaged in hostilities towards the US or its allies to he held under the designation:

Although there is no evidence of petitioner actually using arms against U.S. or coalition forces, the Government does not need to prove such facts in order for petitioner to be classified as an enemy combatant under the definition adopted by the Court. Petitioner Al Alwi's close ties to Taliban and al Qaeda forces during the year preceding the initiation of force by the United State in October 2001, combined with the fact that he remained with his Taliban unit after hostilities were initiated by the United States and its allies, is more than enough to meet the definitional requirement.

Lawyers for the men have said they may appeal [NYT report] the decisions, because of Leon's reliance on classified evidence that was not made available to their clients.

In November, Leon ordered the release [order, PDF; JURIST report] of five Algerian detainees in the first rulings on habeas petition since the June Supreme Court decision in Boumediene v. Bush [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] granting them the right to challenge their detention. In that case, he found that the government had not provided enough evidence to show that the men had been engaged in or supported hostilities against the US or its allies, but did find that a sixth man could continue to be lawfully detained. The habeas corpus hearings [JURIST report] for the six Algerians began earlier that month.