Judge Orders Five Detainees Freed From Guantánamo

Judge Orders Five Detainees Freed From Guantánamo

In the first hearing on the government’s justification for holding detainees at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, a federal judge ruled Thursday that five Algerian men were held unlawfully for nearly seven years and ordered their release.

The judge, Richard J. Leon of Federal District Court in Washington, also ruled that a sixth Algerian man was being lawfully detained because he had provided support to the terrorist group Al Qaeda.

The case was an important test of the Bush administration’s detention policies, which critics have long argued swept up innocent men and low-level foot soldiers along with high-level and hardened terrorists.

The six men are among a group of Guantánamo inmates who won a Supreme Court ruling that the detainees have constitutional rights and can seek release in federal court. The 5-4 decision said a 2006 law unconstitutionally stripped the prisoners of their right to contest their imprisonment in habeas corpus lawsuits.

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