WASHINGTON (CN) - A split panel of the D.C. Circuit has ruled that Guantanamo detainee Ahmed Belbacha has the right to have his case reconsidered by a federal judge. Belbacha is fighting the Bush administration's effort to return him to Algeria, where he claims he will be tortured by the Algerian government and members of an extremist organization who have allegedly threatened him in the past.
Belbacha challenged not only his transfer to a country that might torture him, but also the basis for his detention as an "enemy combatant" at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.
The government brought up past cases in which the appeals court ruled against Guantanamo Bay detainees, but the majority rejected the claim that those cases were similar to Belbacha's.
Though the likelihood Belbacha will succeed in winning a habeas writ is "far from clear," the court said he deserves a chance to have the district court at least factor in the alleged torture in its decision about his transfer.
Judge Randolph dissented, saying district judges have no jurisdiction to issue preliminary injunctions if they lack jurisdiction to issue permanent ones. "This should have been a very simple case," Randolph wrote. "Instead it has been turned into a tangle."
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