(CN) – A man accused of teaching members of al-Qaida how to make explosives can press the government for information about his continued detention at Guantanamo Bay, a federal judge ruled.
Since his capture by U.S. military forces in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan in 2001, Tariq al-Sawam has cooperated with Guantanamo interrogators.
Shortly after al-Sawam challenged his detention in a 2008 federal habeas proceeding in Washington, the U.S. military accused Tariq al-Sawam of serving as an explosives trainer for members of al-Qaida.
According to the charge sheet, al-Sawam “taught individuals how to use military equipment and manufacture explosives including but not limited to hand grenades, anti-personnel mines, and improvised explosive devices, all to be used as terror weapons to attack military personnel, civilians and civilian infrastructure.”
In a partly redacted order unsealed last week, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said al-Sawam can conduct discovery for his lawsuit.
“Even though this action has been pending for some time, the court is ultimately left unconvinced that petitioner should now be precluded from pursuing limited discovery requests that could potentially lead to evidence that would undermine the basis for his continued detention,” the ruling, dated April 10, states.
“That is particularly so because the government has failed to identify any material and undue prejudice that it would suffer if it were required to respond to petitioner’s requests at this time,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote.
“The court is not convinced that petitioner’s earlier efforts to emphasize his cooperation with the government ever crystallized into a concrete litigation that could be said to be ‘clearly inconsistent’ with his current efforts to undermine the credibility or reliability of his alleged inculpatory statements,” she added.
Al-Sawam can view certain photographs that the government used to identify him as an explosives expert for al-Qaida.
Kollar-Kotelly also permitted Al-Sawam to request the reports of his interrogations in 2002, as well as evidence that he was “forcibly removed” from his cell from May 2002 to December 2003, and “suffered ‘psychological distress’ relatively close in time to making inculpatory statements to interrogators.”
But the suspect can seek evidence to “show that noncombatants were present at Tora Bora during the time period the government maintains petitioner was at Tora Bora,” Kollary-Kotelly said, calling this request too broad and vague.
“Petitioner makes no attempt to articulate how he would define ‘combatant’ and ‘noncombatant’ in the context of this request or at what point in time the determination of whether an individual was a ‘combatant’ or ‘noncombatant’ would govern,” she wrote.