Ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees case kicked from civilian court

Oct. 8, 2013 at 10:48 AM
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SEATTLE, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- A civilian court can't consider an ex-Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainee's claims he was taken, tortured, degraded and denied due process, a federal court ruled.

Sudanese national Adel Hassan Hamad, released from the military prison in Guantanamo Bay in 2007 and returned to his native country, filed a civil lawsuit in 2010 seeking damages from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other federal officials.

In a unanimous ruling Monday, a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel vacated a lower court's ruling, finding it lacked jurisdiction over all of Hamad's claims, Courthouse News Service reported Monday. The federal appeals court also declined to consider Hamad's other issues on appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

A U.S. District Court in Seattle dismissed most of Hamad's civil claims based on sovereign immunity and lack of personal jurisdiction. The court found it had jurisdiction over the Fifth Amendment claim against Gates, but dismissed it, saying Hamad failed to show that Gates personally violated his rights.

In his suit, Hamad claimed he was owed compensation for prolonged arbitrary detention; cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; torture; targeting of a civilian; denial of due process and forced disappearance and violation of his due process rights, among other allegations.

Hamad said he was arrested in 2002 in Pakistan by local security forces indebted to an "unknown American official." He was transferred to the custody of the U.S. military custody at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan and finally taken to Guantanamo Bay.

A Defense Department Combatant Status Review Tribunal categorized Hamad an "enemy combatant" in 2005, and a review panel later found that he remained to be a threat to the United States.

The three-judge panel vacated the district court's ruling and sent the case back with orders to dismiss Hamad's lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction.

Hamad's attorney, Gwynne Skinner of the Williamette University College of Law in Salem, Ore., said she and her client are "exploring an appeal."

"We are disappointed that the court did not reach the merits of this case, but instead found it did not have jurisdiction," she said. "We continue to believe that Congress' attempt to prevent the courts from hearing these claims of constitutional and international law violations is itself unconstitutional and morally unjust."

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