Justice Department Loses Again; Judge Orders Ballet Dancer Released from Guantánamo
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Ravil Mingazov, ballet dancer and former member of Russia’s army, has spent the past eight years behind bars at Guantánamo Bay. But he may soon be freed, following a ruling by a U.S. court judge who found the government had no grounds to keep him detained.
Mingazov, who fled Russia after converting to Islam, was captured in Pakistan in 2002 and turned over to American forces. The U.S. military has claimed Mingazov was staying at a suspected terrorist safe house at the time of his capture, and that he trained to become a terrorist. The ethnic Tatar denies being picked up at the safe house or knowing leading terrorist figures like Abu Zubaydah or Osama bin Laden.
With Judge Henry Kennedy Jr.’s order for the Obama administration to release Mingazov, the U.S. has now lost 35 cases in which Guantánamo detainees have successfully challenged their imprisonment, while winning indefinite detention of 13 of them.
Mingarov’s case attracted the attention of the city of Amherst, Massachusetts, where a Town Meeting in November voted to offer him asylum. However, the Obama administration has taken the position that they will not release any of the Guantánamo prisoners inside the United States. In fact, several detainees whose release has been ordered by U.S. courts remain in custody anyway, either because the Obama administration is appealing the ruling or because they have not yet found a country willing to take the freed prisoner. There is even concern that some detainees who were harmless when first detained have become dangerous because of their incarceration.