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Detention of an Afghan at Guantánamo Bay Is Ruled Unlawful

Carol Rosenberg
New York Times
October 20, 2021

A federal judge has ruled that the United States has no legal basis for holding an Afghan man at Guantánamo Bay because although he fought on the side of a militia in Afghanistan, he was not part of Al Qaeda.

“What the ruling means is that Mr. Gul’s detention is illegal,” Tara J. Plochocki, a lawyer for the prisoner, said on Wednesday. “The grant of the writ does not mean the judge can order the government to put him on a plane to Kabul, but the government is required to obey court orders and to comply, it must release him.”

Ms. Plochocki said that Mr. Haroon’s wife, daughter, brother and elderly mother live in Afghanistan and that he “is desperate to get home” to make sure his daughter gets an education. The Taliban barred women and girls from going to school the last time they were in power. He grew up in a refugee camp in Pakistan, she noted. That being the case, the United States might consider sending him there if he is not allowed to return to Afghanistan.

Earlier this week, another lawyer for Mr. Haroon, Eric Lewis, urged the State Department to appoint a special envoy to coordinate the transfers of detainees from Guantánamo Bay, an approach adopted by the Obama administration in its failed effort to end detention operations at the base. Cleared men, he said in a statement, should be sent “home or to countries that are willing to assist.”

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