WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. government need not share source-identifying, top-secret evidence with petitioning Guantanamo Bay detainees, a federal judge ruled.
The ruling comes in answer to a habeas corpus petition filed by Wali Mohammed Morafa, an Afghan citizen and Guantanamo detainee accused of funding Taliban and al-Qaida operations. Morafa's attorneys have secret clearance to review discovery materials in the case, but seek documents classified as top secret to help Morafa with his petition.
U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer said this case stands out among others where the government can find documents containing relevant and material information as a substitute for top-secret records.
"The court recognizes that its ruling necessarily impacts counsel's ability to access evidence that is relevant and material (but not necessary to facilitate review) and does not dismiss lightly the arguments counsel to Mr. Morafa have made or the frustration they experience in trying to expand the universe of 'reasonable available evidence' ... from which to argue for their client," Collyer wrote (parentheses in original).
The evidence that the government has withheld involves the source of information used to detain Morafa, and defense counsel calls such information critical.
Collyer agreed that the information could be useful for habeas petitioners to attack the credibility of such information.
"Some source information contained in top secret documents reviewed in camera and exparte could be relevant and material to Mr. Morafa's case," she conceded. "However, respondents have argued persuasively that source and method information are particularly critical within the intelligence community and the nation's security and, thus, cannot be revealed to Mr. Morafa's counsel. The court agrees."
Morafa filed his habeas corpus petition with a group of other Guantanamo detainees in June 2005.