Sudanese Man Claiming Torture Loses US Court Appeal

By Tom Bacon

A Sudanese man who claims he was wrongly held - and tortured - at the infamous Guantanamo Bay prisoner of war camp has lost his demand for monetary damages from the United States. Adel Hamad was singled out by a Portland Oregon public defenders group as an egregious example of how the Bush administration abused its power to lock up enemy combatants at Guantanamo.

When Hamad was released from captivity in 2007, after being locked up for about five years, he returned to Sudan, insisting, as he had throughout his captivity, that he was not a fighter for Al-Queda or the Taliban but simply a teacher and aid worker who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was swept up in a raid by Pakistani troops.

He wrote to a district of Columbia federal court asking for help; that court bucked his plea on to the Federal Public Defender's office in Portland. Lawyers there traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan to talk to witnesses about his claims.

In 2010, Hamad sued former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and about a hundred other high officials, and got his case heard in Seattle federal court. Most of his claims of arbitrary detention, violation of the Geneva Conventions, of torture and inhumane treatment, however, were tossed out.

When his public interest lawyers appealed, a panel of 9th Circuit Court judges issued an even harsher ruling - that the court system has no jurisdiction whatever on Hamad's claims because of the way Congress wrote the law governing treatment of wartime detainees. The appeals panel held that when there is no legal jurisdiction the only thing judges can do is announce the fact and dismiss the case.
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