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D.C. appeals court suddenly closes Guantanamo detainee hearing

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A federal appeals court judge abruptly closed the courtroom just a minute after arguments began today in the case of…

A federal appeals court judge abruptly closed the courtroom just a minute after arguments began today in the case of a Guantanamo Bay detainee, The Blog of Legal Times reported.

Chief Judge David Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. interrupted detainee representative John Ewald one minute into the attorney’s argument in the habeas corpus case, citing the possibility of unintentionally discussing confidential information as his reason for dismissing about a dozen people who attended the open argument.

The move was unusual considering that Enwald and Justice Department attorney August Flentje both consented to a public hearing and suggested in a March 25 joint filing that the court hold closed-door sessions to discuss confidential information when needed, which the court has done in the past.  

Detainee Adham Awad, a Yeman native who was captured during a raid on an Afghanistan hospital in 2002, is appealing the denial of his petition for habeas corpus by Senior Judge James Robertson.

Senior Judge Laurence Silberman, the second member of the three-judge panel, said it would be difficult to question the lawyers during the arguments. The third, Judge Merrick Garland, did not make a statement.