Guantánamo detainees with local lawyers could be freed soon
- Todd Murphy
- Portland Tribune - News
Adel Hamad and 2 others are represented by Portland federal public defenders
A Sudanese hospital administrator and two other detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, who have been represented by the Portland federal public defender's office may be on their way to freedom.
The National Law Journal has reported that the Portland federal public defender's office has received a notice from the U.S. Department of Defense indicating that three of the public defender's office clients are now 'eligible for transfer' out of the prison.
Steve Wax, head of the Portland federal public defender's office, told the Law Journal that the Department of Defense notice is not clear on what will next happen to the three. 'It's just too early to say,' Wax said. 'We are attempting to determine what the next steps are to get our clients home as quickly as possible.'
Attempts to reach Wax and the Department of Defense of Tuesday were not immediately successful.
The Portland federal public defender's office is representing seven of the roughly 400 people who are being detained at a U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay. The United States government considers many or most of them to be 'enemy combatants' and affiliated with terrorism against the United States.
The case of the Sudanese hospital administrator - Adel Hamad, who has been detained at Guantánamo for four years - has received more publicity than many other detainees because a lawyer in Wax's office who has investigated Hamad's case posted a video about his case on the Web site YouTube in January. The video had been viewed more than 72,000 times as of Tuesday, according to YouTube.
A trio of Portlanders not affiliated with the federal public defender's office also has created a website - www.projecthamad.org - with details about his case.
The federal public defender's office was appointed to represent the seven detainees by a United States federal court. But since then, Congress has passed a law that strips the detainees of any rights to federal court hearings in which they could challenge their detention.
Hamad's lawyers have argued that, while they believe many of the detainees at Guantánamo have no connection to terrorism, the circumstances of Hamad's case are especially egregious.
According to U.S. military documents (see below), his detention appears to be based largely on his association with two charities he has worked for as a teacher and an administrator of an orphanage and a hospital in Afghanistan.
The U.S. military believes that both organizations 'may be affiliated with Usama Bin Laden and Al Qaida operations,' according to military documents. The documents also say that, during Hamad's work with one of the organizations, 'the Detainee came in contact with persons who hold positions of responsibility in al-Qaida.'
A military tribunal has voted 2-1 to continue to detain him in 2004.
The U.S. Army major who cast the vote against detaining him wrote that not all employees of a group that has elements that support terrorism can or should be declared 'enemy combatants.'
'To reach such a conclusion would provide for unconscionable results,' the major wrote. 'Consequently, all physicians, nurses, and aid workers employed by alleged terrorist connected NGO's (nongovernmental organizations) would also be declared enemy combatants.'
The documents linked below are summaries of the Combatant Status Review Tribunal and Administrative Review Board proceedings for detainees Nazur Gul and Adel Hassan Hamad.
The Combatant Status Review Tribunal proceeding is the first military hearing that detainees get at Guantánamo to determine whether their classification as an "enemy combatant" is appropriate. Later, detainees get a second hearing, an Administrative Review Board proceeding, to determine whether they remain a danger to the United States.