Judge: Detainee can't speak to attorney

Associated Press
Date: 11-17-06

WASHINGTON - A suspected terrorist who spent years in a secret CIA prison is not allowed to speak to a civilian attorney until an appeals court decides what rights military detainees have, a federal judge said Friday.

The Justice Department argues that under a new anti-terrorism law, detainees have no right to challenge their imprisonment in civilian courts. Human rights groups argue that's unconstitutional.

Until the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia settles the question, legal challenges brought by hundreds of detainees remain in limbo.

Terror suspect Majid Khan is among those whose cases are pending. Khan and 13 other prisoners designated as "terrorist leaders" were transfered from CIA custody to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in September.

Attorneys who filed documents on his behalf said Khan needs access to a lawyer because he may have been tortured. The Justice Department objected, saying Khan could reveal details of the CIA program including interrogation techniques.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton ordered the government to report back on Khan's mental and physical health but denied the request for an attorney. Khan is allowed to ask again if the appeals court decides detainees must have access to civilian courts.


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