US court urged to dismiss Guantanamo case
US: Lawyers for the first detainee transferred from Guantanamo to
civilian trial in the United States urged a court Monday to drop charges
because he was tortured and blocked from a speedy trial.
Prosecutors, however, argued that Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian
accused of involvement in bloody 1998 attacks on US embassies in Kenya
and Tanzania, could not be quickly tried because of "national security"
while he underwent interrogation.
Judge Lewis Kaplan in a New York federal court did not issue an
In oral arguments before Kaplan, defense attorneys said the
authorities broke the law when they held Ghailani five years without
trial. He was kept at a secret CIA prison, or "black site," after his
capture in 2004, then was taken to the controversial Guantanamo Bay base
in Cuba in 2006, and transferred to New York last year.
"For the first two months in the black site..., he literally did not
know whether the next morning he'd be taken out and shot," attorney
Peter Quijano said.
The treatment "reduced him to a state of helplessness, where he was
physically, emotionally and psychologically unable to resist."
Quijano said the government "ignored and was indifferent" to
Ghailani's US legal right to a quick trial after indictment.
But prosecutors say that Ghailani underwent "enhanced interrogation"
because he knew critical intelligence about Al Qaeda that investigators
needed in order to save American lives.
"Concern for national security was much more important" than hurrying
to trial, Assistant US Attorney Michael Farbiarz said.
Farbiarz added that Ghailani never demanded a fast trial. "There was
a strategic utility to him to waiting and after it was no longer useful
he started waving his hands."
The 1998 US embassy attacks killed 224 people and injured more than
5,000. Ghailani, allegedly a former cook and bodyguard to Osama bin
Laden, pleaded not guilty to federal conspiracy charges in June in New
New York, Tuesday, AFP