Wednesday, March 30, 2005

US Judge Bars Transfer of 13 Guantanamo Detainees

Yahoo! News
US Judge Bars Transfer of 13 Guantanamo Detainees

Tue Mar 29, 5:52 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal judge on Tuesday barred the U.S. government from immediately transferring 13 Yemeni detainees from Guantanamo Bay to another country, where they fear they will be tortured or imprisoned indefinitely.

U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy granted a preliminary injunction that requires the government to give him and the attorneys for the detainees advance notice of 30 days before any of them are removed from Guantanamo.

Another federal judge on March 12 issued a similar temporary restraining order to keep the detainees at the U.S. military base in Cuba while Kennedy considered the issue.

Guantanamo Bay holds about 540 suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners, mainly from the U.S.-led Afghanistan war that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Pentagon has said that 214 prisoners have left the prison camp. Of that number, 149 were freed while 65 were turned over to foreign governments.

Attorneys for the detainees argued they might be mistreated if transferred to another country. Such a transfer also would effectively extinguish their pending U.S. court petition challenging the legality of their detention and seeking their release, the attorneys said.

Kennedy agreed with that argument and said the transfer of the Yemenis would deprive the court of jurisdiction over the dispute.

He rejected the argument by U.S. Justice Department attorneys who said that granting the request by the detainees would "encroach on the foreign relations and national security prerogatives" of the government's executive branch.

"At this point, we're looking at the ruling to determine the way ahead," said Maj. Michael Shavers, a Pentagon spokesman.

(Additional reporting by Will Dunham)