A federal judge last week dismissed suits by four former Guantanamo Bay detainees whose lawyers had continued pressing their habeas cases despite the fact that the men had already been released to other countries.
Lawyers for the detainees argued that while their clients were no longer being held at the U.S. Naval base in Cuba, they were still in the "constructive custody" of the U.S. government. Two of the men have been detained by Libya's government, while another was serving a sentence in Tunisia for a prior conviction. The fourth’s whereabouts were unknown, though his counsel said he might have been in Afghan custody. Lawyers for all of the men contended they were being held abroad "by color of the authority of the United States."
In his opinion, dated Nov. 18 but officially filed today, Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said he no longer had jurisdiction to hear the cases. He called the theory that the men were being held under U.S. authority “rank speculation,” and concluded that, in any event, the court had no way of granting relief.
“Simply put, this Court has no authority over the foreign governments currently holding petitioners,” Leon wrote.
Check out earlier coverage of this issue from the BLT.