Supreme Court rejects cases on Guantanamo detainee treatment

Supreme Court rejects cases on Guantanamo detainee treatment

© POOL New / Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court on Monday spurned two appeals involving U.S. treatment of Guantanamo Bay detainees, barring a Syrian man from suing the United States over alleged torture and blocking the release of images purported to show evidence of a Saudi man's mistreatment.

The justices in both cases left intact lower-court rulings in favor of the U.S. government.

In one case, the court left in place a January 2014 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit against a Syrian former detainee, Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak al Janko. He had sought to sue the United States for damages stemming from his treatment during seven years at the U.S. facility in Cuba.

Janko says he was tortured and suffered physical and psychological degradation at Guantanamo from 2002 to 2009 after being detained in Afghanistan in 2001. Janko was seeking damages for the way he was treated.

The appeals court said that based on what Congress has directed, courts do not have the authority to hear lawsuits like the one filed by Janko.

Separately, the court handed a victory to the CIA by declining to take up a case in which a Washington-based civil liberties group, the Center for Constitutional Rights, was seeking access to videos and photographs of another detainee, Saudi citizen Mohammed al-Qahtani.

The justices left in place a September 2014 decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled the images are exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, a law intended to facilitate the release of information held by the government.

The appeals court said releasing the images could harm U.S. national security by inciting anti-American sentiment.

Al-Qahtani is known as the "20th hijacker" over his alleged intention to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. The Center for Constitutional Rights said the images would show evidence that al-Qahtani was tortured.

He is still in being held at Guantanamo.

Janko was released from Guantanamo in October 2009 after a successful legal challenge to his detention. Prior to his detention by U.S. forces, Janko had been imprisoned and tortured by the then-Taliban-led Afghan government as a suspected U.S. spy.

The United States opened the Guantanamo detention facility in 2002 to hold what it described as foreign terrorism suspects. The treatment of detainees there has drawn international criticism.

The cases are Janko v. Gates, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 14-650 and Center for Constitutional Rights v. CIA, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 14-658.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)