Detention & Guantanamo

Government's Reply Brief in Rimi

By Wells Bennett
Friday, December 7, 2012, 9:47 AM

The government yesterday filed a reply in support of its renewed motion for summary affirmance in Rimi et al. v. Obama et al., a case pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

In 2006 Rimi was transferred from Guantanamo to Libyan custody.  This prompted the district court to dismiss his petition for a writ of habeas corpus as moot; in the meantime, he was convicted of a crime in Libya but escaped.  On appeal,  Rimi characterized the conviction as a collateral consequence of his detention by the United States---and, thus, an ongoing basis for federal jurisdiction.  The government naturally disagreed and asked the Court of Appeals summarily to affirm the district court's decision.  Rimi then filed a classified response.

Which brings us to the reply.  Here's an excerpt:

In his response to appellees’ motion for summary affirmance and reply on his motion for remand, petitioner Rimi alleges only one collateral consequence of his detention.  Rimi explains that, after he was transferred to Libya by the United States in 2006, convicted by a Libyan court, and sentenced to 25 years in a Libyan prison, he was not released from prison in Libya, but instead escaped during a jailbreak that occurred during the recent revolution in Libya. In his view, then, his Libyan conviction and sentence were never satisfied nor vacated, and the existence of his prior Libyan conviction itself is a collateral consequence of his detention by the United States. Because that consequence flows entirely from his conviction by a foreign government, it is plainly insufficient under this Court’s precedent to prevent the mootness of his case. The district court order in his case should be summarily affirmed.

1. Rimi contends that his case is not moot because he may at some point in the future suffer the negative collateral effects of a foreign conviction and sentence, imposed by the Libyan government pursuant to Libyan law. He does not suggest that he currently suffers any negative consequences. And, of course, any potential future consequence of foreign criminal sentence is completely speculative. But even assuming for the purposes of argument that such speculative future foreign enforcement of that foreign sentence were likely to occur, such an outcome would not implicate Rimi’s United States habeas case and does not alter the fact that his United States habeas case is moot. Whether the Libyan government enforces a Libyan criminal sentence is beyond the control of the United States and this Court.

Rimi contends that he was not released from United States custody upon his transfer to Libya. As appellees have previously explained, when Rimi was transferred to Libya, he was released from United States custody and control. Gul v. Obama, 652 F.3d 12, 18 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (crediting government declarations that transferred detainees are no longer in the custody and control of the United States and rejecting argument that Gul and Hamad’s transfer agreements, “which require the receiving Government to monitor the former detainees, somehow contradict the fact that once they are transferred the detainees are no longer in the custody of the United States”). Moreover, Rimi’s statement that he was actually held in a Libyan prison pursuant to a Libyan criminal conviction belies his argument that he was not released from United States custody upon transfer.