Local attorney fights for Gitmo detainee

Tuesday, November 11th 2008, 10:53 pm
By: News 9

By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- President-Elect Barack Obama has said he wants to ship dozens of prisoners to the U.S. for trial and close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Terry West, a local attorney, agreed with the proposal.

He said that officials at Guantanamo Bay or Gitmo as it's known are violating the constitutional rights of those detainees. West represented a man who was held there, never once spoke to his client.

Ameenullah Toukh spent five years of his life at guantanamo bay cuba. He was among hundreds of detainees rounded up for allegedly having terrorist ties.

"He was picked up because they were giving $5,000 bounties to anyone who would pick up anybody and say they were a suspected terrorist," West said. "They never charged him with anything."

West got involved in the case after a legal organization recruited him to represent one of the suspects, but there were several obstacles that prevented him from meeting with Toukh.

West's legal team, which included a federal judge, went through a lengthy security and vetting process that took about a year.

"The administration and the prison was doing everything to create roadblocks so that we couldn't even get there to talk to them," West said. "Total violation of all the things we stood for and fought for all of these generations."

West responded by filing the writ of habeas corpus, saying that Toukh was detained without access to legal counsel.

It was filed in September of 2006, but in December of 2007, West received a notice of transfer from the federal government which said officials relinquished custody and transferred Toukh to Afghanistan.

A white house spokesperson responded to the situation at Guantanamo Bay saying "When you pick up people off the battlefield that have a terrorist background, it's not just so easy to let them go. We put forward a process that we think would work in order to put them on trial through military tribunals."

West said he is angry over how this was handled and he hopes things change under the President Elect Barack Obama.

"No one is trying to get them to turn guilty people free," West said. "We simply want to find out and follow the rules that we stand for."

When Toukh was released he was sent to a prison in Afghanistan, but he's now out of that prison and living with relatives.