July 4, 2010
US government prosecutors must present evidence that an Algerian detainee held at Guantanamo Bay for over eight years truly belongs to Al-Qaeda or release him, a federal appeals court has ruled.
The decision by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has broad implications for the credibility of evidence the administration of President Barack Obama has presented to justify holding terror suspects without trial.
It also overturned a rare win for the government in Guantanamo cases, reversing a lower court’s decision to uphold the detention of Belkacem Bensayah, who was nabbed from Bosnia with five other dual Bosnian-Algerian nationals in 2001.
The men, who were sent to Guantanamo in January 2002, were accused of planning to head to Afghanistan to fight US forces.
In a partially redacted 17-page ruling issued Thursday, Judge Douglas Ginsburg said “the evidence upon which the district court relied in concluding Bensayah ‘supported’ Al-Qaeda is insufficient… to show he was part of that organization.”