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Biden’s Plan to End Afghanistan War Gives Some Detainees Hope for Release

The legal basis for indefinite detention at Guantánamo is to prevent combatants from returning to the battlefield. But what if their old battlefield is no more?

Charlie Savage and Carol Rosenberg
The New York Times
April 21, 2021

[L]awyers for at least two of the 40 remaining prisoners at Guantánamo told federal judges this week that whatever wartime legal authority the government had to detain their clients was evaporating. The motions were the first legal fallout from Mr. Biden’s announcement.

. . .

The other, an Afghan named Asadullah Haroon Gul, who is about 40, was captured in 2007 by Afghan forces and turned over to the United States military. A basis for holding him is his past affiliation with a militia known by the acronym HIG, a movement that — like its sometime allies the Taliban and Al Qaeda — resisted the American and allied invasion of Afghanistan.

The militia, however, made peace with the Afghan government in 2017, essentially breaking with the Taliban. Even before Mr. Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, lawyers for Mr. Haroon had already sued seeking his release because the militia was no longer engaged in an armed conflict in Afghanistan.

In a motion filed in his habeas case on Tuesday, his lawyers also argued that while they believed Mr. Haroon should have been released years ago anyway, now the United States had even less of a basis for holding him and he should be “immediately” sent home.

“The law is clear: Asadullah gets to go home now, regardless of whether, as the government incorrectly contends, he was part of or substantially supported Al Qaeda,” they wrote.

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