Federal judge orders release of Russian Guantanamo detainee

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia on Thursday ordered the release of Russian Guantanamo Bay detainee Ravil Mingazov. Judge Henry Kennedy Jr ordered the government to “take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps to facilitate Mingazov’s release forthwith.” Government lawyers are currently reviewing the 44-page ruling, which has not yet been declassified. Mingazov, a former ballet dancer, was captured in Pakistan in 2002 and turned over to US authorities. The Pentagon claimed he was captured in a raid on a suspected terrorist safe house and that he had attended a terror training camp, but Mingazov denied the claims. Mingazov is seeking release to a country other than Russia, after Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported in 2007 that seven former Guantanamo detainees suffered abuse and torture at the hands of Russian law enforcement agencies following their release from US custody in 2004.

Thursday’s ruling brings to 35 the number of Guantanamo detainees who have prevailed in habeas corpus proceedings in federal court. The government has prevailed in only 13 cases. In March, the DC court denied the habeas petition of Yemeni Guantanamo Bay detainee Makhtar Yahia Naji al Warafi on its merits, allowing the US government to prolong the detention indefinitely. Earlier that month, a federal judge ordered the release  of Mauritanian Guantanamo Bay detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who had been accused of planning the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Slahi has been in US custody for over seven years and brought a habeas petition, claiming that he had been tortured in prison and had made confessions under duress. In late February, a DC judge ruled that the government can continue to hold indefinitely two Yemeni Guantanamo Bay detainees, even though Fahmi Salem Al-Assani and Suleiman Awadh Bin Agil Al-Nahdi had been cleared for release by the Bush administration two years ago.

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