Habib’s US civil lawyer cancels trip

Joe Margulies’ visit was to be the first legal access granted to Habib, who has been held at the US prison camp as a suspected terrorist since his arrest in Pakistan in 2001.

The visit was ordered by the US District Court that is questioning the legality and merit of Habib’s prolonged detention without charge.

Habib’s Australian lawyer, Stephen Hopper, said Mr Margulies cancelled the court-ordered visit because it would be a waste using their one allowed visit when no information had been provided.

“The Americans have refused to provide Mr Margulies with any particulars about what Mamdouh’s meant to have done,” Mr Hopper said.

“They have also told Mr Margulies that he gets one visit with Mamdouh.”

Mr Hopper said American authorities had not given Mr Margulies a deadline of when he could expect the information about what Habib was supposed to have done.

But numerous requests had so far gone unanswered, he said.

“The Americans are playing hardball and they just don’t want to cooperate with the court process,” Mr Hopper said.

The information the two lawyers had requested would provide an insight into what Habib was accused of and what grounds America said it had to detain him.

Mr Hopper said if it was not forthcoming, the matter would return to the US District Court and further applications would be made.

The cancellation comes days after US authorities knocked back a request by Mr Hopper to join Mr Margulies on the visit on the basis a US military lawyer was yet to be appointed for Habib.

The Australian government had agreed to fund Mr Hopper’s trip.

Habib was arrested in Pakistan in October 2001 on suspicion of training with terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda.

He has alleged he was taken to Egypt where he was tortured before being moved to Guantanamo Bay.

He has not been charged, but has been earmarked to face a US military commission like the one hearing the case of fellow Australian terrorist suspect David Hicks.

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