A U.S. federal judge has ordered the release of five Algerian detainees at the U.S. prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after nearly seven years in detention without charge.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said Thursday the U.S. government has failed to prove the five detainees had planned to travel to Afghanistan to fight against U.S. forces as they were accused. He ruled the U.S. military cannot continue to hold the men as enemy combatants.
But he said the military did provide enough evidence to continue holding a sixth Algerian man, Belkacem Bensayah, who was seized with the other five in 2001.
The Algerians were detained in Bosnia-Herzegovina and transferred to Guantanamo in 2002.
A U.S. Defense Department spokesman said the government will appeal the ruling.
The spokesman said it is unclear when, where or how the men would be released if the order is upheld.
The U.S. government has accused all six men of planning to travel to Afghanistan to join al-Qaida. The government had initially accused the men of planning to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, but those charges were later dropped.
The five men include Boumediene Lakhdar, whose landmark Supreme Court case earlier this year gave the Guantanamo detainees the right to challenge their imprisonment.
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is examining ways to close the detention facility, which holds 270 terrorism suspects.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.