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Taken Question
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
August 15, 2007
Question Taken at the Daily Press Briefing -- August 15, 2007

Status of Guantanamo Detainee Asim al-Haj

QUESTION: Does the US want to release Asim al-Haj from Guantanamo? Have you sought assurances for his release from the Sudanese government?

ANSWER:  Asim al-Haj (aka Sami el Hadj) is being detained at Guantanamo Bay as an enemy combatant in the armed conflict with al Qaida, the Taliban, and their affiliates and supporters. Consistent with the law of armed conflict, the United States is entitled to hold enemy combatants until the end of hostilities, to prevent them from returning to the battlefield.

Mr. el Hadj has been found to be an enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal. Under the Detainee Treatment Act, Mr. el Hadj, like all detainees at Guantanamo, has the right to challenge that determination in U.S. federal court.

The United States does not want to detain anyone any longer than is necessary. Mr. el Hadj's detention is reviewed at least annually by an Administrative Review Board to evaluate the need for his continued detention, including an assessment of the threat he poses to the United States and its allies. Through that process, the Deputy Secretary of Defense has so far determined that he should remain detained at Guantanamo Bay.

We defer to Department of Defense on any additional questions about the scheduling of detainees’ Administrative Review Boards and other details about this process.

We will not put detainees or our operations at risk by discussing the possibility of transfers or releases before they take place.

2007/697


Released on August 15, 2007

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