Court tells UK to release Pakistani in US custody

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An appeals court issued a landmark ruling Wednesday ordering the British government to free a Pakistani detainee who has been held in U.S. custody for nearly eight years without charge.

It was unclear whether Yunus Rahmatullah would be released as required, however, because the U.S. government is not bound by the ruling. It announced that it was reviewing the ruling.

Britain has seven days to produce Yunus Rahmatullah, who is being held by American forces in Afghanistan, according to the Appeals Court's ruling.

Although Rahmatullah, 29, is not a British national, the UK-legal charity Reprieve filed a habeas corpus petition claiming that his detention lacked sufficient cause or evidence, and that British forces violated international law when they rendered him to U.S. custody.

British forces in Iraq seized Rahmatullah in 2004, but then handed him over to the Americans who sent him to the U.S. Air Base in Bagram, Afghanistan — a sprawling base that includes the Parwan detention facility where some 1,900 detainees are being held.

Wednesday's ruling marks one of the first times that a habeas corpus petition has been successful for a detainee at the U.S. base. It puts the United States and Britain in an awkward position — Britain is bound by the ruling, but the United States is not because the decision was handed down by a foreign court.

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