WASHINGTON — A Guantanamo Bay detainee who said he was waterboarded lost a legal battle yesterday when a federal appeals court ruled that the Obama administration can keep information secret that the prisoner wanted to make public.
The decision came in the case of Djamel Ameziane, an Algerian citizen who is seeking his release from the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he has been held since 2002.
In a 3-to-0 decision, the appeals court said US District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle had failed to give substantial deference “to the government’s assessment of its foreign relations and national security interests’’ if certain information were to be revealed.
Huvelle had declared that “I don’t understand how’’ revealing the information “will interfere in anything.’’
The government’s argument provided a detailed and logical explanation of the impact disclosure would have, Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote.
Brown and one of the other judges on the appeals panel, Thomas Griffith, are appointees of President George W. Bush.
The third member of the panel, Douglas Ginsburg, had been appointed by President Ronald Reagan.
In March 2009, Huvelle directed the Justice and Defense Departments and a third agency whose identity was blacked out of the ruling to search their files for any recordings or records favorable to Ameziane.
The agencies then had to certify to the court that all evidence supportive of Ameziane had been produced.
Huvelle specified that such evidence would include statements that were the product of abuse or torture.