The US Department of Justice filed its opposition today to Guantanamo detainee Tariq Ba Odah's habeas petition and bid for release after being held for more than 13 years without charge. In response, Naureen Shah, director of Amnesty International USA's Security and Human Rights Program, issued the following statement:
"Tariq Ba Odah may die at Guantanamo without ever having been charged with a crime. If that happens, it will be because the White House was unwilling to step up and make good on President Obama’s pledges to close Guantanamo. This case is a bellwether for what's to come and a blow to President Obama’s legacy.
"Ba Odah’s reported medical condition is deeply concerning. Eight years into a hunger strike and while reportedly being force-fed, he reportedly weighs less than 75 pounds. Doctors say his weight indicates a life-threatening condition.
"The Pentagon reportedly fears that if Ba Odah is released, other detainees will go on hunger strike. That’s an outrageous reason for depriving anyone of their liberty and it has no basis in international law. The administration must charge Ba Odah or release him.”
"President Obama has long said that his hands are tied by Congress on Guantanamo. But Ba Odah's release was in his power to ensure. President Obama has effectively decided to continue detaining a desperately ill man that the government has never publicly indicated any intention of charging with a crime."