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Gitmo Detainee’s Lawyer ‘Not Allowed To Tell Him’ He’s No Longer An ‘Enemy Combatant’

Think Progress
June 25, 2008

Nearly two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that detainees held at Guantánamo Bay have the right to habeas corpus and can thus challenge their detention in civilian courts, a U.S. Court of Appeals dealt another blow to the Bush administration’s detention policy.

The appeals court ruled that the Pentagon improperly designated Huzaifa Parhat, an ethnic Uighur Chinese national, an “enemy combatant” after being swept up by the U.S. military in Afghanistan in 2001 and then sent to Guantánamo Bay, where he has been held since.

Despite the ruling, Parhat has yet to see any of its benefits. In fact, he doesn’t even know about it. Parhat’s lawyer told CBC radio’s As It Happens last night that Parhat is currently being held in solitary confinement and “has no idea” the appeals court ruled in his favor because, he added, “I’m not allowed to tell him”:

DEREK STOFFEL, CBC HOST: Mr. Willett, what’s your client’s reaction to this ruling?

SABIN WILLETT (PARHAT’S LAWYER): Boy what a great question that is because my client doesn’t know about this ruling because I’m not allowed to tell him. […] He’s sitting in solitary confinement today. He has no idea what’s happened as far as I know.

Listen here: http://thinkprogress.org/2008/06/25/parhat-combatant-solitary/

Indeed, it is unclear what the appeals court’s ruling actually means for Parhat. The New York Times noted that the U.S. “said it will not return Uighur detainees to China because of concerns about their treatment at the hands of the Chinese government, which views them as terrorists.” Thus, as another one of Parhat’s lawyers noted, the “court victory may not mean freedom for him.”

For now, Willett said that “we’re going to file a motion with a judge to order them to let us call him on the phone and take him out of solitary confinement.” He added, “We’ve got a man in solitary confinement that they’ve got no authority to hold at all. Its unbelievable.”

Transcript:

DEREK STOFFEL, CBC HOST: Mr. Willett, what’s your client’s reaction to this ruling?

SABIN WILLETT (Parhat’s Lawyer): Boy what a great question that is because my client doesn’t know about this ruling because I’m not allowed to tell him.

STOFFEL: He doesn’t know?

WILLETT: We’ve asked — the first thing we did was ask the government for permission to make a phone call and they haven’t given it to us. Now we have a way to send him a letter that goes through clearence and we’ve sent it and maybe in three weeks he’ll get it.

He’s sitting in solitary confinement today. He has no idea what’s happened as far as I know.

STOFFEL: Well let me ask you then, what’s your reaction to this ruling?

WILLETT: Well I’m thrilled except for the constant vexation of the inablitiy to bring this thing to a real and human close. Huzaifa Parhat
has now been determined by about as conservative a court as there is not to be an enemy combatant — this is what we’ve been saying for years — and yet I can’t get him out of solitary confinement in the hands of my own government. So it is a frustrating but somewhat thrilling moment for us. […]

STOFFEL: I suppose the next thing you need to do is to let your client know what’s happened.

WILLETT: Thats what we’re trying to do. I mean, we’ve sent him a letter. We’re going to file a motion with a judge to order them to let us call him on the phone and take him out of solitary confinement. I mean we’ve got a man in solitary confinement that they’ve got no authority to hold at all. Its unbelievable. So we’ll be in court pretty soon, trying to get some more relief but it was a good day to get that notice.

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