(NaturalNews) The Department of Defense is not obligated to return money it seized from a Guantanamo Bay detainee that was eventually released to Algeria, according to a federal judge.
In early 2002, Courthouse News reports, Djamel Ameziane was in position of 740 British pounds, 429,000 Afghanis and 2300 Pakistan rupees when he was captured by local police near the Afghan-Pakistan border and summarily turned over to American forces. From there, he was transported to the military detention facility at Gitmo.
While his detainee profile, which was published online by WikiLeaks, describes him as an al-Qaeda-trained fighter in Afghanistan, Ameziane always insisted that he was not guilty and sold for a bounty.
'USA Patriot Act' provision
He was held at Guantanamo Baby for more than 10 years without being charged before being released to his home country Dec. 5, 2013. He had opposed transfer to Algeria, because he feared persecution there, according to court papers.
The Pentagon, however, refused to return his money, based on what government lawyers claimed to be a policy "based on a strong national security interest in preventing these funds from being used in a manner that would adversely impact the safety and security of the United States." The justification was drawn from provisions in the USA Patriot Act, reports said.
Some human rights groups have argued that the policy constitutes a "war crime," specifically in that it is in violation of an international prohibition of wartime "pillage," according to Vice News.
Eugene Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School, called the Pentagon's position a "complete scandal" that contracts international humanitarian law, according to the article, Courthouse News reported.
However, U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle would not address that controversy in dismissing Ameziane's suit recently. In a seven-page decision, Huvelle found that she did not have jurisdiction over the suit, in which she declared "moot" because Ameziane is "no longer in custody."
"Respondents do not seem to question the concreteness of petitioner's alleged injury - the loss of his money - or the fact that his detention at Guantanamo caused the injury. Instead, respondents argue that the injury is unredressable through habeas relief and that petitioner's entire case is moot. (Mot. to Dismiss at 15.) The Court agrees," Huvelle wrote.
The suit was called, "Djamel Ameziane v Barack Obama, et al."