Judge Orders High-Profile Gitmo Detainee Released

Military Prosecutors Had Hoped to Execute Salahi

Federal judge James Robertson today ordered Mohamedou Ould Salahi, once referred to as the “highest value detainee” in all of Guantanamo Bay, released after ruling that the government lacked any legal basis to hold him. The details of the release order are classified, but a redacted version is expected in the next few weeks.

Salahi has been held by the US since November 20, 2001. The memo regarding his detention accused him of traveling to Afghanistan to wage jihad, though this was decades ago in response to the Soviet occupation. He was arrested in Mauritania and renditioned to Jordan.

Salahi’s abuse in US custody, amid accusations that he was a “top” al-Qaeda operative, have been well documented, and prosecutors have repeatedly expressed hope that he could eventually be executed.

Though the Justice Department is said to be reviewing the ruling and Salahi remains in custody for the time being, the order does serious damage to the credibility of the military commissions system, as his attorney, Nancy Hollander noted: “they were considering giving him the death penalty. Now they don’t even have enough evidence to pass the test for habeas.”

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.