In Guantánamo case, a judge tightens the screws on the US
He is insisting that the government disclose any evidence that points to a detainee's innocence in a 'dirty bomb' plot.
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In the US, the Mohamed case marks a test of the Supreme Court's decision in June granting detainees a constitutional right to challenge the legality of their detentions in federal court. It is also a test of a similar decision favoring detainees handed down by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.Skip to next paragraph
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After Sullivan ordered the government to turn over favorable evidence to Mohamed's lawyers, Justice Department lawyers announced in October that they would no longer seek to use the dirty-bomb plot as evidence against Mohamed. Nonetheless, the judge ordered government lawyers to disclose to Mohamed's lawyers any dirty-bomb evidence suggesting that Mohamed was innocent of involvement.
Mohamed's lawyers say in court filings that there never was a dirty-bomb plot. The allegation stems from a joke website, they say.
Justice Department lawyers say they stand by the original allegation. But they also insist that all they must prove to defeat the habeas petition is that Mohamed attended a training camp in Afghanistan. The conditions and circumstances of Mohamed's earlier treatment and interrogations are not relevant to his status as an enemy combatant, they say.
Judge's gauge of the evidence
In a status conference on Monday, Cori Crider, one of Mohamed's lawyers, said the Justice Department had turned over some exculpatory evidence but was still withholding evidence. "They have a great deal of information that will demonstrate his statements weren't voluntary, that they were the product of torture," she said.
Ms. Crider said the government had not acknowledged Mohamed's whereabouts from 2002 to 2004. "There is a huge black hole in the case," she said.
Justice Department lawyer Andrew Warden told the judge that "several hundred pages" of evidence had been turned over. The extent of the government's disclosure is unclear because most of the information is classified. The judge must be "prudent and incremental" in his approach to the disclosure issue, Mr. Warden said.
But the judge countered that he must determine the reliability of Mohamed's statements if they are to be used as evidence against him. To do so, the judge suggested, he may need to examine "what were the conditions. How were the [interrogation] sessions conducted."
Sullivan set a deadline. He gave the government until Dec. 11 to obtain an affidavit that must be sworn under penalty of perjury from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, verifying that all exculpatory evidence has been turned over to Mohamed's lawyers. He says his order includes exculpatory evidence related to the alleged dirty-bomb plot.
In addition, the judge ordered the government to produce by Dec. 11 a sworn affidavit detailing the circumstances that existed leading up to every statement and admission Mohamed made to the government. And he ordered the government to allow Mohamed's lawyers to question the official who conducted the interrogations of Mohamed.
"I will not tolerate any delay on the part of the government," the judge warned.