(CN) – A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ordered the release of a Yemeni detainee, saying the government’s case to keep him at Guantanamo relies too heavily on confessions tainted by torture.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina ruled that Saeed Mohammed Saleh Hatim’s confession that he was part of al-Qaida in Afghanistan was unreliable, because it was allegedly obtained under torture in Afghanistan.
Hatim was captured in Pakistan in November 2001 and was held for six months in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where he was allegedly beaten and threatened with rape.
“The government’s allegations rest almost entirely upon admissions made by the petitioner himself – admissions that the petitioner contends he made only because he had previously been tortured while in U.S. custody,” Urbina wrote.
The government claimed that Hatim trained at the al-Farouq terrorist camp, stayed at al-Qaida safehouses, and fought against U.S. and coalition forces at the Battle of Tora Bora in Afghanistan in December 2001.
“[T]he government faces a steep uphill climb in attempting to persuade the court that the petitioner’s detention is justified based on the allegation that he trained at al-Farouq, given that the sole evidence offered in support of that allegation is tainted by torture.”
Hatim never admitted to fighting against the U.S. and allied forces, and there is no evidence that he was part of al-Qaida when he stayed at the guesthouses, the judge found.
Hatim has been detained at Guantanamo Bay since June 2002.