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Federal appeals court denies Guantanamo detainee al Odah's habeas petition

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] released a partially redacted opinion [text, PDF] Wednesday denying habeas corpus relief to Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Fawzi Khalid Abdullah Fahad Al Odah [JURIST news archive]. In its opinion, the court affirmed the district court's ruling [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that there was sufficient evidence against al Odah for him to be considered "part of" al Qaeda and Taliban forces. The US government is given authority to detain suspects who can be considered "part of" al Qaeda or the Taliban under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) [text, PDF], and the district court found that it was more likely than not that al Odah "became part of Taliban and al Qaeda forces" after traveling to Afghanistan and attending a terrorist training camp. Lawyers for al Odah attempted to argue that the individual pieces of evidence against him could be explained without reaching the conclusion that he was a member of al Qaeda. The appeals court disagreed, holding that when viewing the evidence in its entirety, there was "strong support" for the district court's findings.

Al Odah's case, pending since 2002, was a companion case to the 2008 Supreme Court ruling in Boumediene v. Bush [opinion text; JURIST report], in which the court determined that Guantanamo detainees have a constitutional right to bring a habeas challenge in federal court. Last week, the DC Circuit ruled [JURIST report] that evidence against Algerian Guantanamo detainee Belkacem Bensaya, the only one of the six Boumediene petitioners who has not been granted habeas relief, must be reviewed to determine if he was "part of" al Qaeda. Al Odah's case was also a companion case to the 2004 Supreme Court decision of Rasul v. Bush [opinion text; JURIST report], in which the court ruled that US courts have jurisdiction to hear challenges brought by foreign-born detainees to contest their captivity and treatment at Guantanamo Bay.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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