Judge John Bates' ruling, his first on a Guantánamo habeas corpus petition, left the so-called government win-loss scorecard at 16-38 in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
That means that judges have ruled more than twice as often for the release of detainees at Guantánamo, rather than holding them.
But in this case Bates rejected Shawali Khan's unlawful detention lawsuit in a one-page order released Friday afternoon. His opinion was not released but a court order said an unclassified version would be released ``at a later date.''
Justice Department lawyers argued in the small portion of its case made public that Khan, 47, held at U.S. Navy base since February 2003, belonged to an anti-American cell of Hezb Islami Gulbuddin, an insurgent group active in Afghanistan, founded by a Pashto leader.
As part of his case, defense attorneys gave the court Pashto statements from family and neighbors to plead his case that he was an innocent caught up in the conflict.
``He was only a shopkeeper here, as all of us, selling fuel. So how could he fight the same time,'' said a May 2010 statement from Kandahar neighbor Raifullah, signed with a thumbprint.
An anti-communist, radical Muslim fighting faction, the HIG was founded in 1977 to wage jihad against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and at times back then was supported by the United States. Later it allied with the Taliban and possibly al Qaeda.
``Khan repeatedly asserted that he is a shopkeeper, not a terrorist, and that he was captured by corrupt and lawless Afghans who turned him over to the Americans and told lies about him,'' wrote defense attorney Len Goodman in a brief.
Bates heard arguments on the case for three days in closed session starting May 13. The government presented intelligence documents, no witnesses. Khan testified via closed-circuit feed from the remote U.S. base in southeast Cuba.
``He's sort of a country bumpkin,'' said Goodman this weekend, adding that Khan, who has never been married, had a farm outside of Kandahar until he moved there to support the family with a shop.
Goodman also called a professor, Brian Glyn Williams, who testified there was no HIG presence in Kandahar at the time of Khan capture, and that the leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar had just returned to Afghanistan from exile -- and was not then in the area.
Source: Miami Herald