In response to a court order, the British government has asked the U.S. to return to their custody a Bagram detainee held in U.S. custody for seven years without charge or trial.
Yunus Rahmatullah, a 29-year-old Pakistani, was captured by British troops in Iraq in 2004 and accused of being a terrorist. He was then transferred to U.S. custody and sent to Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan for indefinite detention.
The Court of Appeal granted a habeas corpus request earlier this month ordered the British government to retrieve Rahmatullah to British custody so that he can then be released. The court ruled that, even though he had been transferred to U.S. custody, Britain was still responsible for guaranteeing his habeas corpus rights.
The British gave the U.S. 48 hours to respond to their request, but the U.S. has yet to get back to them. Judges gave the British government until January 18 to secure Mr Rahmatullah’s release from U.S. custody.
Cori Crider, legal director for the charity Reprieve, which brought the case, said: “The only question left is: does the US keep the bargains it makes with its closest ally?
“The Obama administration has said it wishes to restore US standing abroad and to bring the US back into line with the Geneva Conventions – well, there is no time like the present.”
There are now 3,000 detainees in Bagram, five times the amount there when Barack Obama took office. Many of them have not been charged, have seen no evidence against them, and do not have the right to be represented by a lawyer. Daphne Eviatar, an attorney for Human Rights First who investigated Bagram detainees and their rights said recently of Bagram, “It’s worse than Guantanamo, because there are fewer rights.”