Ali Ahmed v. Bush
Cohen Milstein is part of a coalition of firms representing detainees being held by the United States government at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In May 2009, Cohen Milstein achieved a landmark result in its representation of a Guantanamo detainee in a habeas corpus proceeding before a United States District Court in the District of Columbia. After an extensive evidentiary hearing, Judge Kessler granted the writ of habeas corpus and ordered the Government to take all necessary steps to effectuate the detainee's release from Guantanamo. This was one of the first habeas cases to proceed to a hearing and result in the release of a Guantanamo detainee.
Cohen Milstein served as lead counsel for Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed, a young man from Yemen who was arrested in Pakistan at the age of 18. At the time of his arrest, he had completed twelve years of school and had no history of radical or criminal activity of any kind in Yemen. Mr. Ahmed traveled to Pakistan prior to the events of September 11, 2001 and was living in a house that included many other students. He was arrested with many others in early 2002, during a period in which rewards were being offered for the apprehension of alleged "terrorists."
In rejecting the Justice Department's claim that Mr. Ahmed's detention was legally justified, the United States District Court described the Government's evidence as "riddled ... with equivocation and speculation" and "unreliable." The Court found: "there is no solid evidence that Ali Ahmed engaged in, or planned, any future wrongdoing"; "no weapons were found or seized" when he was arrested; and there was "no evidence" of any "other terrorist paraphernalia."
After the Court ruled that there was no lawful basis for detaining Mr. Ahmed, there was continued delay by the Government in effectuating his release. The matter again went before Judge Kessler, and the Court ordered the Government to return Mr. Ahmed to his home country by a deadline established by the Court. Mr. Ahmed has now been reunited with his family and is living in Yemen.