Former Gitmo inmate drops Australian govt lawsuit

Habib agreed on an out-of-court settlement with govt for undisclosed sum.

Last Updated: Jan 08, 2011, 10:20 AM IST

Sydney: A former inmate at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay has dropped a lawsuit against the Australian government claiming compensation for failing to protect his rights.

Mamdouh Habib agreed on an out-of-court settlement with the government for an undisclosed sum, both parties said on Saturday.

Habib, an Australian citizen, was arrested in Pakistan in late 2001 and held at the Guantanamo Bay prison for terrorism suspects for three years before being returned to Australia without charge.

Habib claims he was tortured during his detention, and sued the Australian government for what he claimed was its failure to uphold his rights as a citizen during his detention.

The settlement absolves the Australian government of any responsibility for mistreatment Habib alleges he suffered. Other details were not released.

"In reaching this settlement, the government acted in the best interests of the commonwealth to avoid further protracted litigation and to enable our agencies to focus on their core responsibilities of protecting our national security," Attorney-General Robert McClelland`s office said in a statement.

Habib told Australian media he had settled the case, but would not go into details.

An Egyptian-born Muslim immigrant, Habib was held in Pakistan for 28 days after his arrest and interrogated by Americans before he was transferred to Egypt, then six months later to the US military base at Bagram, Afghanistan and then to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Habib has alleged he was been beaten and electrocuted by his captors while he was in Pakistan and Egypt, kept drugged and shackled, had his fingers broken, and was sexually molested. He claimed that Australian officials were present during parts of his ordeal.

Habib has launched a separate legal bid to try to overturn a government ban on him holding a passport.

Bureau Report