Lawyer demands release of Turkish detainee

29th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

29 March 2005, BREMEN - The lawyer for Turkish national Murat Kurnaz, a prisoner at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, demanded on Monday that government pressure be brought to bear on Washington to obtain the man's immediate release.

29 March 2005

BREMEN - The lawyer for Turkish national Murat Kurnaz, a prisoner at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, demanded on Monday that government pressure be brought to bear on Washington to obtain the man's immediate release.

Bernhard Docke, the lawyer for Kurnaz, made the demand in the light of the Washington Post report saying that US and German investigators had largely concluded there was no evidence to link the 23-year-old to the terrorist network al-Qaeda.

"Any and all diplomatic restraint must be abandoned," Docke said in urging Germany and Turkey to press Washington for the release of Kurnaz, who is being held as a suspected enemy combatant.

He said the detainment and torture of Kurnaz, going on for nearly three years, posed a "clear violation of international and American law".

It was typical of the "illegal arbitrariness" of the US government that it "it does not regret the wrongful decision of detainment, but rather the release of case documents", Docke said.

His comments were in reference to the Washington Post report citing recently declassified documents. The report states US military intelligence and German law enforcement officials had largely concluded there was no information to link Kurnaz to al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organisation or activities.

The paper cited declassified portions of a January ruling in which a US federal judge criticised a secret three-man military panel for ignoring information which exculpated Kurnaz. The judge instead relied on a brief and unsupported memo filed by an unidentified government official.

The Washington Post said the exculpatory information dominated the file.

Kurnaz, an apprentice shipworker who grew up in Bremen, had been studying the Koran at a school in Pakistan when, in early 2002, he was seized by Pakistani special forces and handed over to the US under a US-Pakistan accord to cooperate in the war on terror. He has been detained at Guantanamo Bay since around January 2002.

The identities of the three officers on the military tribunal which ruled against Kurnaz have been kept secret. They said their conclusion was based largely on classified evidence that was too sensitive to release to the public.

The Washington Post quoted Kurnaz' attorney in the United States, Baher Azmy, saying "the US government has known for almost two years that he's innocent of these charges. That begs a lot of questions about what the purpose of Guantanamo really is".

The paper said the Kurnaz case appears to be the first in which classified material considered by a 'combatant status review tribunal' has become public.

The US is holding around 540 foreign nationals at Guantanamo Bay who are suspected to be al-Qaeda or Taleban fighters, or have links to other terrorist groups. The military began holding new review tribunals in the fall of 2004 after a landmark Supreme Court ruling in June allowed the detainees to challenge their imprisonment.

DPA

Subject: German news

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