Thursday, December 21, 2006
Seton Hall University Prof Baher Azmy, who is also legal counsel to former Guantánamo detainee Murat Kurnaz, filed suit today in federal court to compel the Department of Defense to release transcripts relating to his client’s detention.
The government held Kurnaz, along with hundreds of other men, at Guantánamo Bay for over four years without charges or trial. Instead of a trial, the military held its own “combatant status review tribunals” and “administrative review board” hearings, with the military’s own officers to judge the detainees. It is the transcripts of these hearings – which purported to justify Kuna’s detention – that are sought by today’s suit, filed in federal district court for the Southern District of New York.
In January 2005, Judge Joyce Hens Green of federal district court in Washington, D.C. ruled that Kurnaz’s detention was illegal. She pointed to five exculpatory statements by U.S. intelligence authorities and questioned why the Defense Department had ignored them.
“Not only is Kurnaz obviously innocent of any wrongdoing, the United States actually knew of his innocence as early as 2002,” said Azmy. “Why wasn’t this evidence shared with him? How did the government justify detaining him in spite of this evidence? The government needs to come clean and explain to Murat Kurnaz and the American people why the military continued to detain a person who was never connected to terrorism.” Rest of Press Release. . . [Mark Godsey]