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United States District Court for the District of Columbia

April 12, 2005.

MURAT KURNAZ, et al. Petitioners,
GEORGE W. BUSH, et al., Respondents. JAMEL AMEZIANE, Petitioner, v. GEORGE W. BUSH, et al., Respondents.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: ELLEN S. HUVELLE, District Judge


Petitioners in the above-captioned cases have each requested a preliminary injunction ordering respondents to provide advance notice of petitioners' transfer from the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they are currently detained. Murat Kurnaz, a twenty-two year old Turkish citizen who was born and raised in Germany, has been detained in Guantanamo Bay for more than three years. He requests thirty-days notice to counsel of any proposed transfer. Jamel Ameziane is a citizen of Algeria and has been detained for more than two years. Mr. Ameziane is as yet unaware of his representation by counsel. His counsel requests that petitioner not be transferred from Guantanamo until counsel has had an opportunity to meet with him to ascertain his interests.

Kurnaz's case was initially consolidated before Judge Joyce Hens Green and has been stayed pending appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. See Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Resp'ts' Mot. for Certification of Jan. 31, 2005 Orders and For a Stay, In re Guantanamo Detainee Cases, No. 02-0299, et al. (D.D.C. Feb. 3, 2005).*fn1 Since Ameziane's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus was filed subsequent to Judge Green's decision, it is not subject to the stay or protective orders entered by her. This Court ordered respondents to show cause by April 1, 2005 why Ameziane's writ should not be granted. (Show Cause Order, Mar. 10, 2005.) Respondents have, however, moved for a stay, which Ameziane opposes. Ameziane has also moved for entry of a protective order. The parties presented oral argument on each of these motions on April 8, 2005.

  As neither Ameziane nor respondents oppose entry of protective orders identical to those entered by Judge Green, the Court does so by order below. The Court also concludes that respondents' Motion to Stay should be granted. However, to ensure that the proceedings can continue in an orderly fashion in the event that the detainees prevail on appeal, respondents are ordered to provide factual returns to Ameziane's counsel within ninety days of the date of this Order. Finally, upon consideration of the arguments of the parties, in view of the orders issued by four other judges on this Court granting substantially identical relief as is requested in this case, see Al-Marri v. Bush, No. 04-2035 (D.D.C. Apr. 4, 2005); Al-Joudi v. Bush, No. 05-0301 (D.D.C. Apr. 4, 2005); Al-Oshan v. Bush, No. 05-0520 (D.D.C. Mar. 31, 2005); Al-Shiry v. Bush, No. 04-0490 (D.D.C. Apr. 1, 2005); Abdah v. Bush, 2005 WL 711814 (D.D.C. Mar. 29, 2005), and for the reasons stated below, the Court concludes that petitioners must be given notice of a potential transfer in a limited type of circumstance. In particular, if respondents have not reached a diplomatic understanding with the transferee country that a petitioner's transfer from Guantanamo is for release only, respondents must provide that petitioner's counsel with thirty days advance notice of the proposed transfer.

  In Rasul v. Bush, 124 S. Ct. 2686 (2004), the Supreme Court held that federal courts have jurisdiction to determine the legality of the ongoing detention of petitioners held in Guantanamo Bay. Id. at 2698. See also In re Guantanamo Detainee Cases, 355 F. Supp. 2d 443, 464 & 479 (D.D.C. 2004) (Guantanamo detainees possess rights under the Due Process Clause and Geneva Convention); Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 344 F. Supp. 2d 152, 165 (D.D.C. 2004) (Guantanamo detainees possess rights under Geneva Convention). Accordingly, the Court must also have authority to preserve this jurisdiction if it can be shown that respondents are acting to circumvent it. See All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a); Al-Marri, No. 04-2035, slip. op. at 10 n. 11 (quoting SEC v. Vision Communications, Inc., 74 F.3d 287, 291 (D.C. Cir. 1996)) (All Writs Act "empowers a district court to issue injunctions to protect its jurisdiction"); Abu Ali v. Ashcroft, 350 F. Supp. 2d 28, 54 (D.D.C. 2004) (federal courts "may and should take such action as will defeat attempts to wrongfully deprive parties" of their right to sue in federal court) (internal citation omitted); Lindstrom v. Graber, 203 F.3d 470, 474-76 (7th Cir. 2000) (All Writs Act permits court to stay extradition pending appeal of habeas corpus petition); Michael v. INS, 48 F.3d 657, 664 (2d Cir. 1995) (All Writs Act permits federal Court of Appeals to stay a deportation order pending review of its legality). Cf. Fed.R.App.P. 23(a); Jago v. U.S. Dist. Court, 570 F.2d 618, 623 (6th Cir. 1978) (Rule 23(a) preserves district judge's authority to issue order regarding custody of prisoner pending review of habeas petition).

  Respondents state that some petitioners may be transferred to custody of a foreign government


for investigation and possible prosecution and continued detention when those governments are willing to accept responsibility for ensuring, consistent with their laws, that the detainees will not continue to pose a threat to the United States and its allies. Such governments can include the government of a detainee's home country, or a country other than the detainee's home country that may have law enforcement or prosecution interest in the detainee.
(Waxman Decl. ¶ 3.) According to respondents, once such a transfer is effected, the Court would lose its jurisdiction. While the Court has no occasion to decide at this time whether this or any other type of transfer could be subject to an injunction, several examples offered by petitioners raise sufficiently serious concerns to justify the limited remedy of advance notice. For instance, a petitioner could be transferred to the custody of a different United States custodian in a foreign country, such as the United States military base in Afghanistan. (See Kurnaz Reply at 14.) Alternatively, he could be transferred to the custody of a foreign government, but held under the direction and control of the United States government. See Abu Ali, 350 F. Supp. 2d at 69. Or, he could be transferred to the custody of a country where he has never had occasion to violate that country's laws, again raising a possible question as to the governmental claim of an "independent law enforcement" interest. In such narrowly circumscribed circumstances, closer scrutiny of the transfer might well be appropriate in order to preserve the petitioner's right to obtain review of the legality of his detention.

  For these reasons, it is hereby

  ORDERED that respondents' Motion to Stay is GRANTED and Ameziane v. Bush, No. 05-0392, is STAYED pending resolution of all appeals in In re Guantanamo Detainee Cases, 355 F. Supp. 2d 443 (D.D.C. 2005), and Khalid v. Bush, 355 F. Supp. 2d 311 (D.D.C. 2005). This stay shall not, however, prevent the parties from availing themselves of the procedures set forth in the Protective Order entered below, nor shall it bar the filing or disposition of any motion for emergency relief.

  It is further ORDERED that respondents shall provide a factual return to the Court and to counsel for Ameziane within ninety (90) days of the date of this Order; and it is further

  ORDERED that the Court ENTERS by way of reference the protective order and supplementary orders previously entered in In re Guantanamo Bay Detainee Cases, Civil No. 02-0299, et al., by Judge Joyce Hens Green. These include the Amended Protective Order and Procedures for Counsel Access to Detainees at the United States Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, first issued on November 8, 2004; the Order Addressing Designation Procedures for "Protected Information," entered on November 10, 2004; and the Order Supplementing and Amending Filing Procedures Contained in November 8, 2004 Amended Protective Order, issued on December 13, 2004.

  It is further ORDERED that, where respondents do not have an understanding with the receiving country that a transfer from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is for purposes of release only, respondents shall provide petitioner's counsel with thirty (30) days advance notice of the transfer, including the proposed destination and conditions of transfer.

  ORDERED that petitioners' motions for preliminary injunctions are DENIED AS MOOT.

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