Another Gitmo detainee ordered released; use of torture admitted

Mohammed el Gharani, 21, of Chad, held for seven years at the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay, was ordered released Jan. 14 by federal district Judge Richard Leon (Washington DC), who found that the government had not proven that Mohammed el-Gharani was an "enemy combatant." "The government's evidence was a mosaic of allegations" Leon said in his ruling, calling the claims against el-Gharani "murky." He ordered that el-Gharani be released soon either to Saudi Arabia, where he was raised and his family lives, or Chad. (Reuters, Jan. 14)

Meanwhile, Susan Crawford, convening authority of Military Commissions at Guantánamo, said in an interview in the Washington Post that torture tactics were used in the interrogation of Mohammed al-Qahtani. Crawford made the statement after nearly two years of reviewing Guantánamo Bay practices, admitting that the US military engaged in "sleep deprivation, sustained isolation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold that 'left him in a life-threatening condition.'" As the official responsible for pursuing any criminal charges against al-Qahtani, Crawford has said that she would not allow for the prosecution of al-Qahtani precisely because he was tortured.

Advisers to President-elect Barack Obama said Jan. 12 that he plans to issue an executive order during his first week in office closing the facility at Guantánamo Bay. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), chairman of the US House Judiciary Committee, published a report Jan. 13 urging Obama to open a criminal investigation into the abuses that have occurred at Guantánamo Bay throughout the Bush administration. (Jurist, Jan. 14)

Speaking to reporters in Washington, outgoing CIA director Michael Hayden stood by his defense of CIA "waterboarding" and other methods regarded as torture. "The agency did none of this out of enthusiasm. It did it out of duty, and it did it with the best legal advice," he said. "I am convinced that the program got the maximum amount of information... I just can't conceive of any other way." (Reuters, Jan. 15)

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