Friday, September 22, 2023
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Judge Absolves Hold of Cleared Gitmo Prisoners

WASHINGTON (CN) - Six men freed from Guantanamo Bay cannot advance claims that guards subjected them to sleep deprivation, forced nudity other abuses, a federal judge ruled.

Three of the men claimed that they endured abuse long after a Combatant Status Review Tribunal determined that they were not enemy combatants.

Chief U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth dismissed the complaints Friday for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim.

The plaintiffs in the case - Yuksel Celikgogus, Ibrahim Sen, Nuri Mert, Zakirjan Hasam, Abu Muhammad and Sami Al Laithi - are foreign nationals who came to Afghanistan, Tajikistan or Pakistan as refugees or in search of employment. They were arrested in October 2001 and taken to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

"All plaintiffs allege that they were subjected to harsh conditions including sleep deprivation, arbitrary discipline, forced nudity, and a variety of physical, psychological, and cultural abuse," Lamberth wrote.

Two of the men claim that they were held for another 17 months after they were cleared of an enemy combatant designation. The third cleared man said his detention lasted another 10 months. Though the other three were released as well, the ruling does not state if or when the U.S. found that they were not enemy combatants.

Claiming that they all experienced ongoing medical, psychological and social problems following their release, they sued former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers and a host of other military personnel, including individual guards and interrogators at Guantanamo.

Finding that the "defendants are entitled to immunity," Lamberth tossed the men's claims under the Alien Tort Statute and Religious Freedom Restoration Act claims. He also dismissed their civil rights and Bivens claims, which takes its name from a 1971 Supreme Court decision that created a cause against federal employees for constitutional violations.

Citing the ruling in Rasul v. Myers, Judge Lamberth found that the plaintiffs were detained by the U.S. "in the course of military operations in the war on terror."

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