For Immediate Release: March 8, 2013
New York City – Today, following the arraignment of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, in a New York federal court, Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar issued the following statement:
“Today’s efficient arraignment is a far cry from the clumsy military commissions proceedings we see at Guantanamo. Today’s hearing took 17 minutes, the government had already turned over the bulk of its unclassified discovery and the judge announced that he will set a trial date next month. The arraignment of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and the other 9/11 defendants took 13 hours and attorneys are still arguing pre-trial motions with no trial date in sight. The prosecution of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith clearly demonstrates that federal courts are the best venue for federal terrorism trials.”
Abu Ghaith is an alleged al Qaeda member and spokesman. He pled not guilty at his arraignment, where he was charged with conspiracy to kill Americans.
Human Rights First notes that federal courts have completed nearly 500 cases related to international terrorism since 9/11. Of those, 67 cases have involved individuals captured overseas, according to Department of Justice data obtained by Human Rights First in a Freedom of Information Act request.
Meanwhile, military commissions have convicted only 7 individuals since 9/11. Two of those convictions were recently overturned due to legal problems in securing jurisdiction.
For more information about prosecuting terrorism cases, please see Human Rights First’s fact sheets Federal Courts Continue to Take Lead in Counterterrorism Prosecutions and Myth v. Fact: Trying Terrorism Suspects in Federal Court. For more information about Human Rights First’s plan for closing the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, please read the organization’s blueprint How to Close Guantanamo.