Obama faces court challenge over detainee

July 29, 2009 at 8:13 AM
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WASHINGTON, July 29 (UPI) -- The U.S. government ceded its authority to hold the youngest detainee at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison and should release him, the prisoner's lawyers say.

After a federal judge determined the government's case against Mohammed Jawad was flawed, the Obama administration admitted defeat and said Jawad would no longer be considered a military detainee. However, administration lawyers said he would be held in the military prison for possible prosecution in the United States.

Jawad's lawyers Tuesday argued the government relinquished its authority to hold their client, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

"Enough is enough," lawyers said in court documents urging the judge to send Jawad back to Afghanistan, which has requested his return. The judge scheduled a hearing in Federal District Court in Washington for Thursday, in what observers say could be a crucial test over the extent of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last year granting Guantanamo Bay detainees the right to challenge their imprisonments in habeas corpus suits.

U.S. officials say Jawad, a teenager when he was captured, threw a hand grenade that seriously wounded two U.S. servicemen and their Afghan translator in an attack in Kabul in 2002. Earlier in July, federal Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle said there was "no evidence" against Jawad.

The Obama administration must decide whether to make Jawad's suit a test case, Charles Stimson, a Defense Department official until 2007 and now a senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, told the Times.

"This is the Obama administration's time to decide," Stimson said, "what they will do when a habeas judge orders a person released, but they can't in good conscience let him go."

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