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Afghan detainee held illegally by US government: federal judge

October 21, 2021 at 8:35 pm

People wearing prisoners’ uniform protest to demand for the closure of Guantanamo on the 19th anniversary of its opening in Brussels City Center, Belgium, on January 11, 2021 [Dursun Aydemir / Anadolu Agency]

An Afghan detainee who was held for 14 years at the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will soon be released after a federal judge ruled his detention was illegal, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Asadullah Haroon Gu, 40, was captured in 2007 as part of the US’ war in Afghanistan after the 11 September, 2001, terror attacks. Gul was a member of a paramilitary group allied with Al-Qaeda, but he was never charged with a crime and the group, Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), reached a peace agreement with Afghanistan’s US-backed government in 2016.

Prosecutors argued that Gul’s ties to Al-Qaeda and terrorism ran deeper than just his association with HIG and his detention was justified.

But his defense was bolstered by a finding by a board of review made up of members of the US national intelligence. That board ruled this year that Gul does not pose a significant threat to national security.

Separately, the US determined that transferring Gul from Guantanamo Bay did not pose a security risk and the Afghanistan government, prior to its collapse in August, had also argued for Gul’s release, saying that his continued detention was bad for US-Afghanistan relations.

Additionally, his defense team argued that he was a prisoner of war and should have been released upon the announcement that the US was ending the war in Afghanistan.

US District Judge, Amit Mehta, of Washington D.C. made the final ruling on Gul’s release this week, although he did not announce the basis for his decision.

Gul’s attorney, Tara Plochocki, said in a statement that the ruling, “was a landmark victory for the rule of law and a much-needed reminder to the US government that there are limits on what it may do in the name of national security.”

Gul’s victory represents the first successful petition for release by a Guantanamo Bay detainee in 10 years. After his release, there will be just one Afghan remaining at the camp, out of the 219 originally sent there following the US invasion.