Guantanamo detainees may ask to see copies of their own statements, even if the government has classified them, a federal judge ruled today.
Senior Judge Thomas Hogan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said judges could force the government to hand over the material if they found it was relevant to a detainee's case. The Justice Department had asked Hogan to deny the detainees any access to their own statements if they were deemed secret.
Lawyers for the detainees have been waging a long battle with the government over what material they should be permitted to share with their clients. In many of the habeas cases, the suspect’s own statements make up a major portion of the government’s evidence, Hogan wrote.
Without being able to see those documents, it would be difficult for the accused men to challenge the charges against them, the judge found.
“No one is better positioned to challenge the government’s reliance on a petitioner’s statements than the petitioner himself,” Hogan wrote.
Hogan also questioned how the government could argue that statements being used as evidence against a detainee weren’t material to their case. But he declined to issue a blanket judgment on the issue.
“[S]uch materiality determinations should be made by the Merits Judges on an individual basis,” he wrote.