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Bagram detainees win court ruling
Foreign detainees held at US base in Afghanistan can challenge their detention.
Last Modified: 02 Apr 2009 19:23 GMT
The US is set to expand its base at Bagram
in Afghanistan [EPA]

A US judge has ruled that foreigners held at the Bagram US military base in Afghanistan have the right to challenge their detention in court.

The ruling puts the court at odds with the administration of Barack Obama, the US president, which said in February that detainees held at Bagram have no right to sue in federal court.

"Bagram detainees who are not Afghan citizens, who were not captured in Afghanistan and who have been held for an unreasonable amount of time" may invoke the right to trial, John Bates, a US district judge, ruled in Washington on Thursday.

The US supreme court has previously ruled that detainees held at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay had the right to challenge their detention, and Bates argued that the Bagram detainees faced the same situation.

Bates said his ruling only applied to the part of the legal action specifically seeking the release of the Bagram detainees and did not affect their legal challenge regarding conditions at the base.

Afghan held

The case centred on two Yemenis, a Tunisian and also an Afghan national who have all been held at Bagram for at least six years.

Bates said the three foreign detainees had the legal right to challenge their detention but postponed a decision on Haji Wazir, the Afghan national.

Releasing him could create "practical obstacles in the form of friction with the host country," Bates wrote.

He ordered Wazir and the government to file memos addressing those issues.

Obama has ordered the Guantanamo prison, which has been widely criticised by human rights groups, to be closed within one year.

Source:
Agencies
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