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Federal court begins habeas hearings for Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] Judge Richard Leon [official profile] of the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] on Thursday began habeas corpus hearings for six Algerians challenging their detention at Guantanamo Bay. The hearings are the first to be held since the Supreme Court [official website] granted detainees at the facility the right to challenge their captivity in Boumediene v. Bush [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] in June. The government has not brought criminal charges against the men, but has said that they planned to join al Qaeda in hostilities against the US. Lawyers for the men challenged the sufficiency of the government's evidence, and criticized Leon's decision to close the hearing to the public after he found that some of the evidence used against the six should be kept classified. His ruling on the petition is expected later this month. AP has more. The New York Times has additional coverage.

Also Thursday, DC District Court Chief Judge Thomas Hogan [official profile] issued an order [order, PDF] establishing rules for the habeas hearings that have been put under his jurisdiction. In the order, Hogan specified that the government must show "by a preponderance of the evidence" that it can justify holding the detainees, and that it must define "enemy combatant" in order to hold the men under the designation. SCOTUSblog has more.

Earlier this week, a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit [official website] suspended [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] its review of another detainee's status as an "enemy combatant," saying it may lack authority to review the case because of the district court's authority over the habeas petitions. In October, Leon ruled [order, PDF; JURIST report] that in order to be validly held as an "enemy combatants," Guantanamo Bay detainees [JURIST news archive] must have directly supported hostilities against the US or its allies setting the standard which the government must use to justify their detention.

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