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Judge: Taleban, al-Qaida Fighters Have No Right To Trial in US - 2002-07-31


A federal judge in Washington has ruled that suspected Taleban and al-Qaida fighters now detained at a U.S. naval base in Cuba do not have the right to trial in the U.S. court system.

Federal Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued the ruling in a case brought by British citizens Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal and Australian David Hicks. They are being held at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, along with more than 500 others from 36 countries, on suspicion of fighting with Taleban and al-Qaida forces in Afghanistan.

Families for the three detainees hired lawyers who sued the Bush administration and insisted that they had the right to argue their case before a U.S. judge.

But Judge Kollar-Kotelly ruled that the U.S. legal system has no jurisdiction over the detainees in Cuba and rejected arguments that the detainees should have the same legal rights as Cubans who gain entry into the United States by requesting political asylum.

Lawyers for the families of the detainees who brought the suit said U.S. officials had repeatedly denied attempts by relatives to contact the prisoners.

U.S. officials have described the Guantanamo detainees as among the most dangerous Taleban and al-Qaida fighters captured in Afghanistan.

The detainees at Guantanamo Bay are being held indefinitely not as prisoners of war but as unlawful combatants. They do not have the right to be represented by an attorney but would be given legal counsel in the event they are tried before a military tribunal.

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