In Stunning Ruling, D.C. Judge Orders Release of Five Gitmo Prisoners

Washington, D.C. -- Following Judge Richard J. Leon’s decision today in U.S. District Court ordering the release of five of the six Boumediene habeas defendants, Center for Constitutional Rights Executive Director Vincent Warren released the following statement:

This decision illustrates once again that the arbitrary detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay has been and continues to be unlawful.

Even in a courtroom that was largely closed to the public and the press, and with the detainees allowed only limited access to the proceedings by telephone, the court could find no reason to hold these men. This decision makes it clear once again that even with presumptions in its favor, the government cannot muster the barest evidence in support of its arbitrary detentions.  For seven years, the Bush administration sought to avoid the courts because it had no evidence and sought instead to create a lawless prison.

We must note that justice here, however, comes seven years too late. The restoration of habeas corpus is a great achievement, and what is necessary now is for the government to give up this fatally flawed system, rescind the ‘enemy combatant’ labels slapped on recklessly by combatant status review tribunals and return the men at Guantanamo to their home countries or, for those needing resettlement or asylum, to a safe third country.

We hope a new administration makes restoring the lives of hundreds of men at Guantanamo who have never been charged with any crime or tried in a court of law a top priority. Guantanamo Bay is a failure by every measure and must be closed immediately.


***
CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo for nearly seven years – sending the first ever habeas attorneys to the base and sending the first attorney to meet with a former CIA “ghost detainee.”  CCR has been responsible for organizing and coordinating more than 500 pro bono lawyers across the country in order to represent the men at Guantanamo, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation. CCR represented the detainees with co-counsel in the most recent argument before the Supreme Court, which resulted in victory for prisoners there in June.

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