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Wadda you mean?....we have to let him go

The issue of innocent men detained at Gitmo won't go away.

For some reason the Americans have some weird notion that they can detain people, for years, without trial, let alone a conviction of anything. In many cases the men haven't been presented with a charge of any description.

Not so fast, says at least one US judge. The Washington Post reports:

"In an opinion released Friday, a federal judge ruled that the government cannot continue to hold a Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainee simply because it fears he will renew his ties with al-Qaeda or commit unlawful acts.

U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson ruled that Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian, must be released from custody because the government was unable to prove that at the time of his capture he was part of al-Qaeda or was providing any support to the organization".

And, no less critically:

"The 9/11 Commission Report found that Slahi directed two of the hijackers and a key operative in the plot to go to Afghanistan in 1999. But the judge said the evidence presented in court yielded only the finding that Slahi hosted three men for one night at his home in Germany and that one of them was Ramzi Binalshibh, a key figure in the plot.

"The government's problem is that its proof that [Slahi] gave material support to terrorists is so attenuated, or so tainted by coercion and mistreatment, or so classified, that it cannot support a successful criminal prosecution," Robertson wrote. "Nevertheless, the government wants to hold [Slahi] indefinitely, because of its concern that he might renew his oath to al-Qaeda and become a terrorist upon his release."

Robertson said that such a fear may be "well-founded," but that a "habeas court may not permit a man to be held indefinitely upon suspicion." The judge noted that the government had abandoned the theory that Slahi had aided in the Sept. 11 attacks, and that, therefore, he was not detainable under Congress's 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force."

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