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Court Case

Mohammedou Salahi v. Barack Obama (Amicus Brief)

The Brennan Center for Justice and Reprieve file a brief as amici curiae in support of Salahi.

Published: June 22, 2010

In Brief – In Mohammedou Salahi v. Barack Obama, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia will decide whether a Guantanamo detainee who was captured far from any battlefield, did not take part in the 9/11 attacks, and never fought against the United States in Afghanistan can be granted a writ of habeas corpus. This case is the first one that involves a party who had no alleged connections to the American battle after 9/11 in Afghanistan or the 9/11 attacks themselves. The party involved was seized in Mauritania based on evidence that he was connected to alleged terrorists in the 1990s, even though these alleged activities took place before Congress authorized the use of force against al Qaeda.

Argument Presented – The Brennan Center argues that Congress in the Authorization for the Use of Military Force did not intend to extend the government's detention authority to a situation so far removed from the circumstances alleged in Hamdi, which upheld the government's detention power under the AUMF.

Procedural History – On April 9, 2010, Judge James Robertson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, issued a Memorandum Order granting Salahi a writ of habeas corpus. According to the judge's order, "Salahi fought with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan (20 years ago), associated with at least half-a-dozen known al-Qaeda members and terrorists, and somehow found and lived among or with al-Qaeda cell members in Montreal. But a habeas court may not permit a man to be held indefinitely upon suspicion, or because of the government’s prediction that he may do unlawful acts in the future — any more than a habeas court may rely on its prediction that a man will not be dangerous in the future and order his release if he was lawfully detained in the first place." The government appealed the ruling and continues to hold Salahi at Guantanamo Bay.