(CN) – A Yemeni Guantanamo detainee who confessed to training with al-Qaida is not eligible for release, even though his initial confessions were coerced, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan ruled that 23 of the 26 documents the government presented as evidence against Musa’ab Omar al Madhwani, including statements he made at Guantanamo, are tainted because of the use of “coercive interrogation techniques” to secure the confessions.
The government accused al Madhwani of getting weapons training in Afghanistan, attending an al-Qaida training camp, and participating in a firefight against Pakistani authorities at an apartment.
Judge Hogan said al Madhwani had been tortured in Afghanistan after his capture in Pakistan in 2002, and Guantanamo interrogators most likely reviewed his coerced confessions from Afghanistan and asked him to make identical confessions at Guantanamo.
“It thus should come as no surprise that during petitioner’s first Guantanamo interrogation, which was conducted by a U.S. official on the day petitioner arrived at Guantanamo, he was gripped by the same fear that infected his Afghanistan confessions,” Hogan wrote.
But the statements al Madhwani made to the Combatant Status Review Tribunal in September 2004 and the Administrative Review Board in December 2005 – the government’s remaining pieces of evidence – are “fundamentally different” from what he said during the Guantanamo interrogations, the district court ruled, and are enough to keep him detained.
The judge noted that two to three years had passed since al Madhwani was subjected to harsh interrogation tactics, and the proceedings were in a formal setting.
In those hearings, al Madhwani conceded that he had attended the al-Farouq training camp, and had traveled and associated with members of al-Qaida, the ruling states.
Once in Afghanistan, al Madhwani “demonstrated an unrelenting desire to be with al-Qaida,” and the terrorist group considered him a member, Hogan said.
Though the judge denied al Madhwani’s petition for release, he did not rule out a transfer.
“Petitioner was, at best, a low-level al-Qaida figure,” Hogan wrote, adding that al Madhwani was “young, unemployed, undereducated” and “particularly vulnerable to the demagoguery of religious fanatics.””The court fails to see how, based on the record, petitioner poses any greater threat than the dozens of detainees who recently have been transferred or cleared for transfer,” Hogan wrote.