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Gitmo Detainee, Abused in U.S. Custody, Is Returned to Kuwait

In October, we reported on the case of Fouad Al Rabiah, a 50-year-old Kuwaiti and father of four who had been held at Guantanamo for seven years. A federal judge had ruled that the government couldn’t support its allegation that Al Rabiah was part of the Taliban or Al Qaeda, and ordered the government to release him “forthwith.”

Al Rabiah wasn’t the first Guantanamo detainee ordered released. (He was actually the 30th; see our rundown of Gitmo detainee lawsuits.)  But his case stood out for the criticism the presiding judge launched against the U.S. government. The judge, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, called the evidence against Al Rabiah “surprisingly bare,” and found that Al Rabiah’s own confessions, on which the government’s case ultimately relied, were obtained after he was subjected to “aggressive interrogation tactics.” (Read the judge’s full decision, via our handy document reader.) As the judge noted, the tactics were followed by confessions that even Al Rabiah’s own interrogators didn’t believe — yet formed the basis of the government’s case against him.

On Wednesday, two months and 22 days after Judge Kollar-Kotelly ordered him released, Al Rabiah was “transferred” to Kuwait. “The legal system that freed him certainly failed him,” Andrea J. Prasow, a former Pentagon lawyer who now works for Human Rights Watch, told the Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg, “because it took the government seven years to have a hearing on the merits, in which the judge ruled they essentially had no reason to hold him in the first place.”

We called the Department of Justice, to ask whether Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s findings had produced any changes in the way detainees are interrogated at Guantanamo. We’ll let you know what they tell us.

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