Eleven accused jihadists held at the U.S. military detention center in Guantánamo, Cuba have petitioned a federal court to end their alleged indefinite imprisonment, citing U.S. President Donald Trump’s “anti-Muslim bias” as grounds for their request.
In the petition filed on January 11, which marked the 16th anniversary of the arrival of the first detainees to the prison, the inmates argue that Trump’s “suspicion and antipathy” towards Muslims is fueling his pledge to keep all remaining 41 captives locked up, reports the Guardian.
The inmates reportedly quote medical experts who have argued that prolonged indefinite imprisonment at the facility, commonly known as Gitmo, amounts to psychological torture.
“Prisoners are medicated for depression and anxiety brought on by acute despair,” they write.
The Guardian reports:
The inmates are basing their challenge on two legal points. They claim that indiscriminate indefinite detention is illegal under the due process clause of the US constitution.
The second argument is that the justification for never-ending detention under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) was that it was needed to prevent committed enemies of the US returning to the battlefield. But the petitioners claim that justification has begun to unravel.
Although the accused jihadists argue that since Trump became president, there has been “open hostility to transferring any detainees,” the Associated Press (AP) learned last month that the new administration is considering releasing detainees “on a case-by-case basis.”
Tara Rigler, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, acknowledged that the prison will “remain an available option in the war on terrorism.”
Of the 41 detainees still held at Gitmo, authorities have deemed 26 to be “forever prisoners,” or too dangerous to release.
Referring to the “forever prisoners,” the AP reported they “could potentially be reviewed and added to the cleared list.”
Citing the new motion filed by the 11 prisoners in a federal court in Washington, the Guardian reports:
Some of the petitioners in the new filing have themselves been held on the Cuban base almost since the beginning; others have been detained for 10 years. None of them has ever been charged, and all know that unless the courts intervene they could remain in their cells until they die.
In a memorable phrase, they say that “the aura of forever hangs heavier than ever”.
The parole-style Periodic Review Board (PRB) established by former President Barack Obama, who failed to keep his campaign promise to shut down Gitmo, approved five of the 41 prisoners for transfer.
U.S. military commissions have charged ten detainees, which includes some jihadists who are awaiting a death penalty tribunal for their alleged role in the 9/11/2001 terror attacks against the U.S.
The remaining 26 are considered “forever prisoners.” Obama met resistance from Congress when he attempted to close Gitmo, but the former president himself signed into law a bill that prevented him from carrying out his proposal to shut down the facility.
Obama did manage to gradually reduce the prison population from 242 prisoners held at the time he took office in early 2009 to 41 now.
However, George W. Bush released more prisoners than Obama during his tenure — more than 500.
Referring to Gitmo, President Trump has vowed to “load it up” with detainees.