A US appeals court has upheld an anti-terrorism provision that prevents inmates at Guantanamo Bay, including Australian man David Hicks, challenging their detentions in American civilian courts.
The provision is a key element of a law passed by Congress last year after the Supreme Court put a stop to the old military commission system.
By a 2-1 vote, in a major victory for the Bush administration, the US Court of Appeals ruled the law that Congress passed last year took away the rights of the prisoners at the US military base in Cuba to bring such cases and that hundreds of their lawsuits must be dismissed.
“Federal courts have no jurisdiction in these cases,” Judge A Raymond Randolph concluded for the court majority in his 25-page opinion issued by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said they planned to appeal the ruling to the US Supreme Court, which has previously handed setbacks to the Bush administration over handling of its war on terrorism.
There currently are about 395 detainees at the US military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, including Osama bin Laden’s driver in Afghanistan, who has challenged the law.
The first prisoners arrived more than five years ago following the September 11 attacks, and the base has been a central and controversial part of Mr Bush’s war on terrorism.