Habeas Schmabeas (Kurnaz)

Habeas Schmabeas was the 10 March 2006 installment of the popular NPR series This American Life. This broadcast contained some testimony of prisoner abuse at Guantánamo. The sources of this testimony were a number of Guantánamo prisoners, including Badruzzan Badr (Badr Zaman Badr), Abdullah al Noaimi, Murat Karnaz (Murat Kurnaz), and Juma Mohammed Abdul Latif Al Dosari (Jumah Al Dossari). This testimony was given either directly by the prisoners, or else, indirectly, through their lawyers (Joe Margulies, Baher Azmy, and Jonathan Colangelo-Bryan).

In addition to these individuals, the excerpts below mention This American Life host Ira Glass, reporter Jack Hitt, and US Navy Rear Admiral John Hutson (Judge Advocate till 2000).

Habeas Schmabeas was produced by Chicago Public Radio (WBEZ Chicago), and was distributed by Public Radio International.

Herewith the testimony of Murat Karnaz.

Legal Abuse

(HS5) AZMY: [Guantanamo prisoners] were each appointed a personal representative [at their CSRTs] who’s a military officer, um, who in my case met with my client the day before for 15 minutes, sat silent and failed to present all of the exculpatory evidence in his file, which, of course, any lawyer would have done. Not the personal representative. HITT: And as for confronting the evidence, consider the case of Azmy’s client, Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen raised in Germany. The Pentagon accidentally declassified the file with all the secret evidence against him. And here’s what’s in it: nothing. AZMY: The classified file contains – the Washington Post wrote about it – six statements from military intelligence. That’s really what the classified file is. Memos saying “this person was here” or “so-and-so witnessed him…” In Kurnaz’s case, there are five or six statements saying, “There’s no evidence of any connection to Al Qaeda, the Taliban or a threat to the United States. The Germans have concluded he has got no connection to Al Qaeda. There’s no evidence linking him to the Taliban.” Over and over and over again. HITT: But here’s the thing: At the hearing, nobody talks about any of that. His personal representative doesn’t bring it up. The tribunal doesn’t consider it. And Kurnaz himself doesn’t even know about it. He’s declared an enemy combatant; he’s still at Guantanamo today. But wait. There’s more. The reason they give for holding him? A friend of his named Selcuk Bilgin blew himself up as a suicide bomber in Turkey in 2003. That’s 2 years after Kurnaz got picked up. AZMY: So, setting aside the sort of remarkable legal proposition that one could be detained indefinitely for what one’s friend does, it’s actually preposterous in that a simple Google search or a call to the Germans would have revealed that his friend is alive and well, and under no suspicion of any such thing. HITT: You heard that right. Kurnaz is in Guantanamo because two year[s] after he got picked up, a guy he knows became a suicide bomber. Except that he didn’t become a suicide bomber and is currently living in Germany. AZMY: Yeah, he’s walking around in Germany; I’ve met him (Chicago Public Radio 2006).

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CSHRA note: This testimony aired on 10 March 2006. Murat Karnaz was eventually released later in 2006.