U.S. Supreme Court requests reconsideration of habeas petitions of Gitmo captives

On Monday December 15th the Supreme Court of the United States directed an appeals court to reconsider its ruling concerning the claims of four former British Guantanamo captives.

The lower court had ruled that the four men were not entitled to bring senior Bush Presidency officials to court, because they were not citizens, and were not detained within the USA, they had no recourse under the United States Constitution.

In its direction the Supreme Court pointed out that in its landmark ruling in Boumediene v. Bush it ruled that overseas captives were entitled to Constitutional protection.

Following its ruling on 12 June 2008 all the current Guantanamo captives were entitled to re-initiate their habeas corpus petitions, which had been stayed following the United States Congress passing the Military Commissions Act. United States District Court Judge Thomas F. Hogan, the judge in charge of setting the rules of procedure for captives’ habeas petitions has explicitly allowed former captives to seek relief in the US court system. But this is the first instance of former captives whose cases had already been turned down being given renewed access.

The four British former captives were Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed and Jamal al-Harith. All four men claimed they were captured by bounty hunters who falsely claimed the four men were jihadists. Al-Harith claimed he was attending a religious retreat in Pakistan when he was captured. Rasul, Iqbal and Ahmed, childhood friends from Tipton, said they had traveled to Afghanistan to render humanitarian assistance, when the war broke out during a trip they made to Pakistan.

All four men reported that they were bound, naked, in painful “stress positions“, and bombarded with loud music, which they described as a form of religious persecution. Observant Muslims are obliged to bow in the direction of mecca to pray five times a day — being bound prevented this. Observant Muslims are obliged to be modestly attired during prayer — not naked.

The four men all claimed that, during their captivity, they observed a copy of the Koran being thrown into a latrine.

The four men were repatriated to the United Kingdom in early 2004, where they were promptly set free. The film Road to Guantanamo was based on their accounts of their captivity. The United States Department of Defense has included them in its list of thirty captives who have returned to the support of terrorism because of their participation in the production of this film.

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