Judge rules more prisoners held in Guantánamo must be freed

Daylife/AP Photo by Brennan Linsley

A US judge has ruled that five Algerian prisoners held in Guantánamo Bay must be set free, in a decision with far-reaching implications for the remaining detainees at the base in Cuba.

District court judge Richard Leon ruled in a Washington DC court that there was no legal basis to keep the five in prison. It is the first verdict in more than 200 habeas corpus petitions being brought before the US courts. The petitions challenge the American government to prove that there is evidence to justify keeping the men in Guantánamo Bay. The judge, known for his conservative views, said the US government should not appeal.

“The decision by Judge Leon lays bare the flimsy basis on which Guantánamo has been founded – at best, slim evidence of dubious quality, at worst, nothing,” said Zachary Katznelson, legal director of Reprieve, the British legal action charity whose lawyers represent 33 Guantánamo prisoners. “This is a tough, no-nonsense judge. If he found there wasn’t evidence to justify holding the men, you can be sure it wasn’t there…”

Judge Leon’s ruling on the detainees is the first since the US supreme court ruled in June that every prisoner in Guantánamo had the right to contest his imprisonment in the civilian courts.

The egregious and corrupt politicians running the United States have diminished our reputation as a nation which stands for freedom – more than any deliberate plot to do so. All the worse because the population in general didn’t give a damn.

Excepting small, consistent bands of freedom-fighters – almost exclusively on the Left side of American politics – Americans accepted the rationales of God and Country over any consideration of decency and justice.

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