Judge grants habeas writ for Guantanamo detainee

U.S. may release Mohammed Jawad, who says he confessed under torture to attacking Americans

Published July 30, 2009 9:25PM (EDT)

The Obama administration has attracted its fair share of critics who argue that the new president’s stances on national security, detention and torture are more a continuation of President Bush’s policies than a break with them. Thursday, though, brought news of one detainee who may well be released thanks to a policy change initiated by President Obama.

U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle has granted a writ of habeas corpus to Mohammed Jawad, who's currently a detainee at Guantanamo Bay. The writ means that the government has a limited time -- in this case, until August 21 -- to either charge Jawad with a crime or release him.

Jawad is accused of throwing a grenade into a vehicle in which two American soldiers and one Afghani were riding. He admitted to the crime, but later said he’d only confessed under torture by Afghani police. Under rules instituted by Obama, evidence obtained from torture is inadmissible.

A report on Jawad -- who was probably no older than seventeen at the time of the attack -- claims that he was recruited by extremists in northwest Pakistan who trained him in a “Jihad madrassa.” The government claims that Jawad said he was proud of the attack. Jawad, on the other hand, says that he was tricked and drugged by terrorists, and according to Human Rights Watch, he attempted suicide in detention.

The government says it has new evidence of Jawad's involvement in the attack, and is studying whether to press charges, but did not contest Judge Huvelle’s writ and in fact submitted a proposed writ of its own.

By Gabriel Winant

Gabriel Winant is a graduate student in American history at Yale.

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Afghanistan Barack Obama Department Of Justice Terrorism Torture U.s. Military War Room