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Time Runs Out for an Afghan Held by the U.S.
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times

New York Times, February 5, 2008
Posted: February 10th, 2008

Abdul Razzaq Hekmati was regarded here as a war hero, famous for ... a daring prison break he organized for three opponents of the Taliban government in 1999. But in 2003, Mr. Hekmati was arrested by American forces in southern Afghanistan when, senior Afghan officials ... contend, he was falsely accused by his enemies of being a Taliban commander himself. For the next five years he was held at the American military base in Guantnamo Bay, Cuba, where he died of cancer on Dec. 30. The fate of Mr. Hekmati, the first detainee to die of natural causes at Guantnamo ... demonstrates the enduring problems of the tribunals at Guantnamo. Afghan officials, and some Americans, complain that detainees are effectively thwarted from calling witnesses in their defense, and that the Afghan government is never consulted on the detention cases, even when it may be able to help. Mr. Hekmatis case, officials who knew him said, shows that sometimes the Americans do not seem to know whom they are holding. In a report in February 2006 ... researchers at Seton Hall University School of Law ... concluded that no outside witnesses had ever been called to appear at Guantnamo. Lt. Col. Stephen E. Abraham ... stepped forward last June to criticize the tribunals. In a submission to the Supreme Court, he condemned them for relying on generalized evidence that would have been dismissed by any competent court, and as being devised to rubber-stamp the administrations assertion that the detainees had been correctly designated enemy combatants when they were captured and that they could be held indefinitely.

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