Guantanamo detainee appeals to Supreme Court for habeas relief
Guantanamo detainee appeals to Supreme Court for habeas relief
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[JURIST] Kuwaiti Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Fawzi Khalid Abdullah Fahad al Odah [JURIST news archive] on Tuesday petitioned [text, PDF] the US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] to reverse a federal appeals court decision that denied him habeas corpus relief. In his petition for writ of certiorari, al Odah claims that the lower courts violated his right to due process by using an inappropriate preponderance of the evidence standard and misapplying the Federal Rules of Evidence [text] to admit hearsay evidence:

By ignoring the plain language of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which are applicable by their terms to habeas corpus proceedings, and by applying a lower standard of proof than has ever been approved by this Court for review of prolonged detention, the District Court and the Court of Appeals have effectively gutted this Court’s holding in Boumediene that habeas corpus is a fundamental right to which detainees in Guantanamo are entitled. This Court should not permit its decision to be undermined by the lower courts through such procedural unfairness.

Al Odah is the first to make such an appeal [AFP report] since the court’s 2008 ruling in Boumediene v. Bush [opinion text; JURIST report] that Guantanamo detainees have a constitutional right to bring a habeas challenge in federal court. If the Supreme Court grants certiorari, then the case will be heard and decided by summer 2011 [AFP report].

In July, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] released a partially redacted opinion [text, PDF, JURIST report] denying al Odah habeas corpus relief. The court affirmed the district court’s ruling [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that there was sufficient evidence against al Odah for him to be considered “part of” al Qaeda and Taliban forces. The US government is given authority to detain suspects who can be considered “part of” al Qaeda or the Taliban under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) [text, PDF], and the district court found that it was more likely than not that al Odah “became part of Taliban and al Qaeda forces” after traveling to Afghanistan and attending a terrorist training camp. Lawyers for al Odah attempted to argue that the individual pieces of evidence against him could be explained without reaching the conclusion that he was a member of al Qaeda. The case has been pending since 2002 and was a companion case in Boumediene v. Bush, as well as the 2004 Supreme Court decision of Rasul v. Bush [opinion text; JURIST report], in which the court ruled that US courts have jurisdiction to hear challenges brought by foreign-born detainees to contest their captivity and treatment at Guantanamo Bay.