Top UK court rejects bid to free US-held detainee

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LONDON — Britain’s Supreme Court today quashed a bid by a Pakistani man held without charge by the U.S. in Afghanistan to force U.K. authorities to secure his release.

Yunus Rahmatullah, 30, was captured by British forces in Iraq in 2004 and handed over to the Americans, who sent him to a prison at Bagram air base in Afghanistan.

Last year a lower court ordered Britain to seek Rahmatullah’s release on the grounds that under international law it was responsible for his care and had the power to ask the U.S. to free him.

But the order — known as a writ of habeas corpus — was canceled after U.S. officials refused to cooperate.

The Supreme Court ruled today that both the original order and the decision to scrap it had been legal.

Jamie Beagent, a lawyer representing Rahmatullah, said the ruling was a victory because the Supreme Court had backed his client’s case in principle.

He said lawyers would continue to seek Rahmatullah’s release on the basis that his detention violated the Geneva Conventions.

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