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Appeals panel: Former Gitmo detainee can't sue over alleged torture

Jan. 21, 2014 at 4:29 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- U.S. law bars federal courts from hearing a former detainee's claim he was tortured in the prison at Guantanamo Bay, an appeals court says.

The panel in Washington Friday upheld a federal judge's decision to dismiss the lawsuit by Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak al-Janko, who spent seven years at Guantanamo, Courthouse News Service reported. Janko, originally from Syria, said he was imprisoned and tortured by the Taliban in Afghanistan and then imprisoned and tortured again by the U.S. military.

A judge in 2009 ordered him released because there was no proof he was an enemy combatant. But the judge also ruled the Military Commissions Act meant Janko could not sue.

"It may very well be that to deny the appellant recovery for injuries incurred while in the United States's custody based solely on the unreviewed decision of a tribunal the Supreme Court has labeled 'closed and accusatorial' is rough justice," Judge Karen Henderson said. "But that objection is to the statute's underlying policy and not to our interpretation thereof. ... The Congress has communicated its directive in unmistakable language and we must obey."

Janko said he was sentenced to 25 years as a spy in Afghanistan because he wanted to leave a militant training camp. Then, he said, at Guantanamo, he was subjected to a series of tortures, including sleep deprivation, being forced into exercise and being hit on his forehead.

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