United States Supreme Court declines to hear the appeal of Guantanamo Bay detainees

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The United States Supreme Court refused relief to several persons detained in Guantanamo Bay by rejecting their appeals and prohibiting the release of images. The Court also did not sanction a petition filed by a Syrian man, who intended to sue the United States government in a case of torture.

The matter involved 2 cases, one of which concerned an ex- Syrian prisoner Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak al Janko who intended to sue the United States government, demanding damages owed to him on account of his mistreatment during his detention at Guantanamo Bay prison for seven years. He was finally released in Belgium in 2009.

Janko pointed out in his complaint before the Supreme Court that he had made seventeen attempts to commit suicide during detention as a measure of protest against his maltreatment. He complained that he was subjected to a horrific ordeal, being detained in isolation for long periods of time and made to stay in solitary confinement for most of the day, in complete seclusion from the outside world.

Mr. Janko argued that he was subjected to the most brutal and malicious methods which were meant to rattle and unravel his physical and psychological persona slowly step by step, causing severe distress and immense suffering in the process.

Among the few techniques al Janko cited were prolonged solitary confinement and sleep deprivation coupled with severe physical distress in the form of repeated and brutal beatings, death and torture threats to him and his family and sustained sexually explicit slurs directed at him female relatives. He was also deprive of appropriate medical and psychological care and subjected to a barrage of continuous humiliation, contempt and harassment.

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In July last year, the United States Court of Appeals for the district of Columbia circuit had clarified that it lacked the authority and the jurisdiction to hear law suits similar to al Janko’s petition.

The other petition before the Supreme Court also saw CIA scoring a home run, as the Supreme declined to hear a case, which purported to secure the release of videos and photographs of Mohammad al-Qahtani, a Saudi prisoner. The case had been brought before the Court, by the Centre for Constitutional Rights, a Washington based rights group which advocated the release of such images based on the ground that they were evidence of US government’s brutality towards Qahtani. Qahtani is known to be the 20th hijacker, as he intended to gain entry into the United States, in order to participate in the World Trade Centre attacks of September 11, 2001.

The high court justices, refused to meddle with a judgement of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit delivered in September holding that such images do not fall within the purview of Freedom of Information Act. Freedom of Information Act covers cases of release of government-held information in the public domain.

The Court of Appeal had agreed with the Central Intelligence Agency, observing that the photographs and videos may very well be capable of hurting national security as they were susceptible to be used by anti-American extremist propaganda, intended to incite violence against the United States and its interests, both domestic and abroad.

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by Siddhartha Singh.