Guantanamo Prisoner Appeals Rejected by U.S. High Court

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to buttress the rights of Guantanamo Bay inmates, rejecting seven appeals from prisoners being held at the American military base in Cuba.

In each case the justices let stand a ruling from the U.S. appeals court handling Guantanamo cases. That court has repeatedly ruled against inmates seeking release, blunting the force of Supreme Court rulings that gave the prisoners access to federal courts.

The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Guantanamo inmates three times. Most recently the court said in 2008 that judges must have the power to order the release of Guantanamo prisoners improperly detained.

The appeals that were denied review today turned on the procedures used by federal trial judges to determine whether inmates are being lawfully held.

In one case, Fayiz Mohammed Ahmed Al Kandari was accused by the U.S. of being in Tora Bora in Afghanistan during the battle there following the Sept. 11 attacks. The government said he received training and a rifle and associated with leaders of al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

In his appeal, Kandari objected to the use of so-called hearsay evidence rather than testimony from people with first-hand knowledge of his activities. Although U.S. courts generally don’t permit hearsay evidence, the appeals court said judges could consider it for detainees at the American naval base in Cuba.

‘Open Disdain’

The appeals court “demonstrated open disdain” for the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling and reduced procedural protections for Guantanamo inmates “down to almost nothing,” Kandari’s appeal said.

A second inmate, Musa’ab Al-Madhwani, attended an al-Qaeda training camp and was captured while hiding with al-Qaeda members in Pakistan, the government said. The appeals court said government lawyers showed he was part of al-Qaeda and didn’t need to prove he was a member of the organization’s “command structure.”

Al-Madhwani’s appeal said lower courts “have erected insurmountable barriers” to Guantanamo inmates’ challenges to their detention.

The cases are Al-Bihani v. Obama, 10-1383; Uthman v. Obama, 11-413; Almerfedi v. Obama, 11-683; Latif v. Obama, 11-1027; Al Kandari v. U.S., 11-1054; Al-Madhwani v. Obama, 11-7020, and Alwi v. Obama, 11-7700.

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