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Drug-Fueled Testimony Won’t Free Gitmo Inmate

(CN) - Allegations about the use of mind-altering drugs on Guantanamo detainees will not give a suspected al-Qaida facilitator another shot at freedom, a federal judge ruled.

Iranian authorities first captured Hussain Salem Mohammed Almerfedi in Tehran about three or four months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Almerfedi was later transferred to the custody of Afghanistan and eventually to Guantanamo Bay in 2003.

He filed his first petition for a writ of habeas corpus two years into his detention.

In 2010, U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman held a three-day merits hearing on the issue, and found that the government had not proven Almerfedi's membership in any terrorist group.

The D.C. Circuit reversed last year, finding that Almerfedi's rent-free stay at a guesthouse "closely aligned" with al-Qaida satisfied the criteria for holding enemy combatants.

Almerfedi argued to reopen his habeas case because of two disclosures that he learned about since the 2010 hearings.

He said prosecutors belatedly turned over exculpatory evidence showing that the government's key witness against him, Humoud al-Jadani, has been "severely mistreated at Guantanamo," damaging his credibility.

Al-Jadani, known in court papers as ISN-230, had been one of Almerfedi's fellow inmates at Guantanamo.

He told authorities there that Almerfedi spent a few months of 2002 or 2003 at Jama'at Tablighi, an al-Qaida guesthouse in Lahore, Pakistan, which the United States has designated as a terrorist support entity.

Almerfedi claims that al-Jadani may have been given mind-altering drugs, citing a recently declassified report by the inspector general of the Department of Defense, first published in 2009.

Judge Friedman said that the new documents and allegations could not change the outcome of the case.

"The problem with this argument is that, without even knowing about this exculpatory evidence that further erodes ISN-230's credibility, this court did not rely on ISN-230's statements because it found him incredible and wholly unreliable," Friedman wrote. "As for the court of appeals, ISN-230's statements were not at all material to the rationale underlying that court's decision to reverse this Court and order petitioner detained. Thus, even accepting the argument that the proffered evidence is exculpatory and undermines the credibility and reliability of this witness, it cannot be said that the evidence 'probably would have changed the outcome' either in this court or in the court of appeals.'"

The unreliability of al-Jadani's testimony is irrelevant, the judge continued.

"Thus, whether he is a demonstrated liar, was tortured or was treated with mind-altering medications would not have changed the outcome," his opinion states.

Friedman noted that the appellate court based their decision on three other factors: the close alignment between al-Qaida and the guesthouse where the detainee stayed rent-free, his direction of travel and the amount of cash on him at the time of arrest.

A declassified copy of the decision, which was first filed on Oct. 26, became public with redactions Wednesday.

About a year ago, the Supreme Court said that Almerfedi could file a sealed petition for certiorari. The court's docket has not identified any developments since.

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