The US Supreme Court will hear its first cases arising from the government’s anti-terrorism campaign following the September 11 attacks, agreeing today to consider whether foreigners held at the Guantanamo Bay Navy base in Cuba should have access to American courts.
The appeals came from British, Australian and Kuwaiti citizens held with more than 600 others suspected of being Taliban or al-Qaida foot soldiers.
The court combined the appeals and will hear the consolidated case some time next year.
Lower courts had found that the American civilian court system did not have authority to hear the men’s complaints about their treatment.
“The United States has created a prison on Guantanamo Bay that operates entirely outside the law,” lawyers for British and Australian detainees argued in asking the high court to take the case.
“Within the walls of this prison, foreign nationals may be held indefinitely, without charges or evidence of wrongdoing, without access to family, friends or legal counsel, and with no opportunity to establish their innocence,” they maintained.
The men whose names are on that case do not even know about the lawsuit, lawyers from the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights told the court.
The lawsuit brought on their behalf claims they are not al-Qaida members and had no involvement in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.