Charges against Omar Khadr, one of just three detainees at the U.S. prison in Guantánamo Bay to be criminally charged so far, were dropped in a surprise ruling during an arraignment hearing Monday.
It appears that the charges were dropped on a technicality. Khadr -- who was only 15 when he was originally captured in Afghanistan, and is 20 now -- was classified as an "enemy combatant." The law authorizing military tribunals, which was passed last year, requires that anyone who is tried in such a tribunal be classified as an "alien unlawful enemy combatant," however.
It's not yet exactly clear what this will mean, but for the moment, Khadr is likely to remain in detention at Guantánamo. Military prosecutors are considering an appeal -- they're hampered by the fact that there is as yet no structure set up to handle appeals from these courts -- but even if they were to lose, there are still hundreds of detainees at Guantánamo who have not been charged at all. Charges could also probably be refiled if the government chose to go that route.