Thursday, January 10, 2008

"Freedom from torture is a fundamental right"

Update II

This is one of those days that reminds me why I work for the American Civil Liberties Union.

In a rebuke of an overreaching executive branch, Judge Thomas Vanaskie of the federal Middle District of Pennsylvania ruled that Sameh Khouzam has "a fundamental right" to be free of torture and that Sameh must be released immediately from York County Prison. In short, Sameh escaped religious persecution and torture in his home country of Egypt and, after years in U.S. jails, won protection under the Convention Against Torture, only to be detained in May and threatened with deportation. The Bush Administration claimed it had "diplomatic assurances" from the Egyptian government that Sameh would not be tortured.

We'll soon have an official statement. For more information on the case, visit our website.

So much for my plan to post on the oral arguments in the voter ID and lethal injection cases.

Update, 6:10pm EST: Our press release is available here, and the judge's decision is available here (PDF).

Update, 6:20pm, EST: Judge Vanaskie has granted the government's request for a five day stay of Sameh's release so that DHS can appeal the release decision to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. The government is also appealing the entire ruling. Sameh won't be released today. Let's hope he sees freedom next week.

Andy in Harrisburg

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sameh Khouzam is an Orthodox Christian and an Egyptian national who escaped Egypt in 1998 after being tortured for his religious beliefs.

Talk about religious persecution! I'm glad the ACLU takes human rights and religious freedom seriously. I guess you can't say the same for the Dept. of Homeland Security.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Ruth Etters said...

Yea! Is it just me, or does that Middle District of Pennsylvania have some really terrific (in the NON-activist sense) judges?

5:35 PM  

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