Court urges Ministers to free Yunus Rahmatullah
Judges yesterday used 14th-century common law to order the UK to secure the release of a Pakistani man seized by British special forces in Iraq in 2004 and handed to the US.
In July, the High Court ruled that Yunus Rahmatullah, 29 – now being held without charge in Afghanistan – was "in the hands of the Americans" and it was "impossible" to say a British minister could "direct [his] delivery".
But that decision was overturned yesterday in the Court of Appeal by the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, Lord Justice Maurice Kay and Lord Justice Sullivan.
With the help of the legal charity Reprieve, which has successfully lobbied for Guantanamo inmates, Mr Rahmatullah's family had resorted to ancient English common law and filed a writ of habeas corpus, an ancient legal tool used to free prisoners from detention when no charges have been made.
The Court of Appeal agreed Rahmatullah's detention was "unlawful" and ordered Britain to pursue his release.
Lord Justice Maurice Kay argued: "On the face of it [Rahmatullah] is being unlawfully detained and [British ministers] have procedures... to enable them to take steps which could bring the unlawful detention to an end."
For the past six years he has languished in the sprawling prison complex at Bagram air base in Afghanistan, often dubbed America's second Guantanamo Bay.
His family says his mental health has deteriorated rapidly in that time.
He was seized by the SAS from an unknown location in Iraq and handed to the Americans, who flew him to Afghanistan, where many suspects have been held incommunicado for years.
Lawyers fought a long battle to reveal his identity and are trying to force the British Government to intervene in his ongoing detention.
Prisoners captured by British forces and handed to their allies are subject to a "memorandum of understanding" that allows the original arresting country full access to the detainee and the ability to return the captives to British custody.
But the Government has fought attempts to access Mr Rahmatullah, initially refusing to acknowledge his existence and then arguing in court that he was in US custody and inaccessible.
A later hearing will decide how the pursuit of his release is to be achieved, but much will depend on whether the US is willing to release him.
Bagram's shame: A legacy of torture
Criticism of America's detention of terror suspects has focused on Guantanamo Bay, but in many ways Bagram has a more shameful legacy. Many of those rendered to Cuba in the early days of the "war on terror" were processed through Bagram and it gained a reputation for torture and deaths. No lawyer has ever been inside and the US has only once released a list of detainees – heavily redacted. In 2006 it admitted at least 40 foreigners were held there.
Malaysia Airlines plane crash exposes alarming flaw in airline security: over one billion flights made last year without stolen-passport check
Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
David Cameron resorts to paying for Facebook fans because not enough people like him
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Oil slicks in South China Sea ‘not from missing jet’, officials say
Swarm of killer bees sting woman 1,000 times
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 3 Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
- 4 Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
- 5 David Cameron resorts to paying for Facebook fans because not enough people like him
£3360 - £16800 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: Cover Supervisor requ...
£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: Male and Female PE te...
£130 - £161 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Do you have a qualificatio...
£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: The school is much la...