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June 12, 2015

Al Bahlul Conviction Overturned

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First said that today’s decision by the D.C. Circuit court to reverse a military commission conviction of Ali Hamza al Bahlul demonstrates that military commissions are an inappropriate venue for terrorism trials. The decision today reversed the charge of conspiracy to commit war crimes; other charges against the Guantanamo detainee, including material support for and solicitation to commit war crimes, had been previously overturned.

“This is just further proof that trying terrorism suspects in military commissions is a terrible idea.  With this ruling, it’s even clearer that federal courts are the right venue for these cases. It's time to stop trying to force these cases into a costly, unnecessary and unreliable offshore military commission system, when we have a reliable and respected federal justice system here at home,” said Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar.

Of the eight convictions in Guantanamo military commissions, four convictions have been fully reversed. Today’s decision also means that that Guantanamo military commissions officially cannot charge detainees with material support or conspiracy, neither of which were war crimes at the time the acts in question were committed. Both charges are available and widely-used charges in federal civilian courts in the U.S.

U.S. federal courts have tried more than 500 terrorism-related cases since 9/11, with terrorism trials happening without incident all over the country. These cases include al Qaeda figures, most recently Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith.

For more information or to speak with Eviatar contact Corinne Duffy at [email protected] or 202-370-3319.