Ex-Gitmo Detainee Can't Get His Money Back
(CN) - The Pentagon does not have to return the money it seized from a Guantanamo detainee that it released to Algeria, a federal judge ruled.
In early 2002, Djamel Ameziane had 740 British pounds, 429,000 Afghanis and 2300 Pakistani rupees on him when local police captured him near the Pakistan border and handed him over to U.S. forces, who detained him on the U.S. Naval base in Cuba.
While his detainee profile published by WikiLeaks describes him as an al-Qaida fighter trained in Afghanistan, Ameziane insists that he was innocent and sold for a bounty.
Ameziane was held in Guantanamo for more than a decade without charges before being released to his home country on Dec. 5, 2013.
He had opposed his transfer to Algeria because he feared persecution there.
The Department of Defense refused to return his money based on what it claimed to be a policy "based on a strong national security interest in preventing these funds from being used in a manner that would adversely impact the safety and security of the United States."
Some human rights advocates have alleged that this policy constitutes a "war crime," namely a prohibition banning wartime "pillage," Vice News reported.
Eugene Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School, called the Pentagon's position a "complete scandal" that contracts international humanitarian law, according to the article.
U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle declined to wade into that controversy in her dismissal of the suit on Monday.
In a 7-page decision, she found that she lacked jurisdiction over the lawsuit, which she declared "moot" because Ameziane is "no longer 'in custody.'"