Mohammad Nechle

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Mohammed Nechle

by Andyt

As a part of Susan Hu’s FOIA project, I was assigned the task of examining the Combatant Status Review Tribunal dossier on Guantanamo detainee Mohammed Nechle. This is the result of that examination.

Mohammed Nechle’s detainee status began on January 18, 2002. At that time he and five other Algerian men, Bansayah Belkacem, Lahmar Saber, Mustafa Ait Idir, Hadj Boudellaa, Lakhdar Boumediene, were released from detention for suspected terrorist involvement by the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina. They had been accused of plotting to blow up the United States Embassy in Sarajevo. What happened next is extraordinary:

On 17 January 2002 the applicants were ordered to be released from pre-trial detention. However, instead of being released, they were immediately taken into the custody of the Federation Police, and the following day they were handed over to the military forces of the United States of America based in Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of the NATO led Stabilization Forces ("SFOR"). At that time, the applicants Boudellaa, Lakhdar and Nechle received decisions on "refusal of entry" ordering them to leave the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina immediately. Within hours, they were transferred to the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. From the Annual Report of the Human Rights Chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 11, 2002

Because of the unusual circumstances of this abduction Mohammed Nechle is actually luckier than most of the other detainees. His wife has managed to retain attorneys in the United States to fight for his release and the Center For Constitutional Rights and Justice in Exile are a party to this litigation (I should actually note that I am not sure that his wife's attorneys aren't affiliated with those organizations). In addition Amnesty International cites his case several times in its recent report: Guantánamo and beyond: The continuing pursuit of unchecked executive power. This additional attention has not produced any results for Mohammed Nechle as he is still detained at GTMO.

The following is a summary of Mohammed Nechle's Combatant Status Review Tribunal Dossier:

Executive Summary: On October 27th, 2004, Mohammed Nechle testified before a Comabatant Status Review Tribunal. All of the actual evidence against him is classified. The Tribunal did not address the legality of his abduction or continued detention other than to determine that Mohammed Nechle meets the definition of Enemy Combatant. There are allegations of abuse, but not very much detail, even from the testimony of Mohammed Nechle himself. Mohammed Nechle was able to call three witnesses to testify on his behalf. Documents indicate that all three were GTMO detainees also and since they testified they worked with Mr. Nechle, they must also have been Algerians abducted from Bosnia. There are 56 pages of documents, many of them from court filings by Mohammed Nechle's wife.

Document URL: http://wid.ap.org/documents/detainees/nechle.pdf

Document Summary: AP FOIA Documents: Combatant Status Review Tribunal Dossier This is a standard dossier in the sense that it is comprised of the 12 documents described in theDkosopedia entry on Combatant Status Review Tribunal Dossiers
1. Status Review: Rear Admiral J.M. McGarrah agrees that Mohammed Nechle meets the criteria of Enemy Combatant in accordance with Deputy Secretary of Defense Order of July 7, 2004 and Secretary of the Navy Order of July 29, 2004
2. Legal Sufficiency Review:

i. Point I(c) notes that there are redactions in exhibits R-24 to R-26 but then refers to redactions in R-4 as showing that none of the redactions would support a determination that the detainee is not an enemy combatant.
ii. Point I(d) states detainee requested four witnesses and only three could be found. It declares that the remaining witness was not reasonably available. It noted that there was some irregularity with this witness request; the documents only show Mohammed Nechle requested three witnesses.
iii. Detainee requested no further evidence.
iv. Decision that Mohammad Nechle was properly classified as an enemy combatant was unanimous. Detainee’s personal representative did not submit comments to tribunal.

3. Redaction request: nothing special.
4. Appointment of Combatant Status Review Tribunal #13: nothing special
5. Forwarding Memorandum: nothing special
6. Decision Report: confirms decision Mohammed Nechle was designated an enemy combatant and specifically states he is a member of Al Qaida.
7. Unclassified Summary:

i. Point 2, Synopsis of Proceedings, says unclassified evidence shows Detainee is associated with Al Qaida with ties to the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA)
ii. States Mohammed Nechle worked for Red Crescent (Islamic Red Cross) in Bosnia and has an alias of Sharfuldin or Sharuldin
iii. Mohammed Nechle testified that he was not a member of Al Qaida or GIA.
iv. Names of witnesses who testified are redacted but witness who was not available is Mohmoud Sayed Yousef who was Mohammed Nechle’s supervisor with the Red Crescent.
v. Point 5, Discussion of Unclassified Evidence states exhibit R-1 contains compulsory statements. R-2 contains affidavit of Mohammad Nechle’s wife which alleges Mohammed Nechle was abducted by “American Agents” in Bosnia.
vi. Mohammed Nechle’s testimony: was arrested in Bosnia for alleged plot to bomb the US Embassy in Bosnia. Bosnian authorities aquitted him of all charges and released him; he was then abducted form Bosnia by Americans. He claims that for the next 36 hours he “received the worst treatment of his life” with no food, water or sleep. Since being in Cuba has never been questioned about alleged plot to bomb embassy. Admits that he goes by Sharfuldin. States he is innocent. Tribunal President inquired about the mistreatment and Mohammed Nechle said he wanted to let it go that his treatment had improved, although he did not initially get needed medical treament.
vii. All three witnesses functioned solely as character witnesses for Mohammed Nechle.
viii. Decision: detainee is enemy combatant.
ix. Actual statements of Mohammed Nechle and witnesses:
1. Mohammed Nechle worked for United Arab Emirates Red Crescent from Abu Dabi
2. In response to question from tribunal president about medical care for his illness on arrival in Cuba p. 8 of 15: In the beginning they didn’t treat me. I asked them to treat me and they left me for a long time without treatment. I had a hemorrhage, that’s what I had and I talked to them about that. I used to tell them there was blood; I was bleeding. I used to tell them about it time after time and just left it. I had problem with it and they told me that they didn’t have any doctors here. They said they to call America and have bring over specialists.
3. Witness number three is a fellow detainee, evidently one of the other Algerians abducted from Bosnia. This witness told the court that the other Algerians he knew in Bosnia were there in GITMO p. 13.

8. Detainee Election Form: All three of his witnesses are detainees!
9. Summary of Evidence: nothing relevant
10. Affidavit of Stephen H. Oleskey
11. Affidavit of Mohammed Nechle’s wife: no mail since August of 2003
12. Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus (name spelled Mohammed Nechla)
13. Personal Representative Review of the Record of Proceedings: nothing here.

Other sources: Caged Prisoners articles referencing Mohammed Nechle

I could not find a website for Justice In Exile, but their contact information is: JUSTICE IN EXILE Clive Stafford-Smith 636 Baronne Street New Orleans, LA 70113 (504) 558-9867

UPDATE: Due to Susan Hu's help, I was able to email Stephen Oleskey, an attorney with the Center For Constitutional Rights, who is acting as Mohammed Nechle's attorney. He did not have much time to communicate as you will see, but here is the exchange:

My email to him

Dear Mr. Oleskey,

I was given your contact information by Susan Hu. I am a member of her team working on documents released to the AP by FOIA requests in detainees. She asked me to work on a summary of the Combatant Status Review Tribunal Dossier on Mohammed Nechle. If you are willing, I would like to ask your feedback on my report which is posted on the Daily Kos Dkosopedia under Mohammed Nechle. I would like to know if the information I have provided is accurate and would appreciate any comments you may have. <p>I also wanted to ask some questions, as a follow up for Susan Hu's group and members of Daily Kos, in particular:
1. Will the fact that Mohammed Nechle was taken from Bosnia rather than an active combat zone impact his case in any way?
2. What are the next steps in his case?
3. Is he allowed to speak with you or any of the other attorneys who have sued on his behalf? <p>I very much appreciate your time and consideration. You may email me back here or if you wanted to speak in person, I can be reached at 214-454-3685. <p>Thank you very much, <p>Andy</blockquote> His Reply

<p>Andy: thanks for the email. I am crashing to go to Bosnia right now and really don't have the time to give you a comprehensive reply but briefly here you go.
1. We feel that it is very important that MN not only was seized in Bosnia, with our five other clients, where they were living with their families and children and working peacefully but also that the Bosnian Supreme Court ordered them all released for lack of evidence to continue holding them immediately before they were turned over extra legally to US forces 17 January 2002..
2. The federal habeas suit we brought for MN and our five other clients was dismissed in January by Judge Richard Leon of the federal district court in Washington DC. . That dismissal is on appeal to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals (the "Leon appeals") and will be heard sometime in the next few months with the appeal by the US of a refusal by another judge in the same court in January to dismiss all the other cases (the "Green appeals").
3. We have visited MN three times in Guantanamo since December and expect to be back to see him (and our five other clients) again in August as part of our responsibility as his counsel. <p>Thanks for your interest and efforts. <p>Stephen Oleskey


Crossposted to Daily Kos and my personal blog, Searching For A Better Way.

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