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Suspected terrorists challenging their detention in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should have access to limited classified government material while the Bush administration seeks to stop their lawsuits in federal appeals court, a judge said Thursday. Government lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green to authorize an immediate appeal after she declined on Monday to throw out suits by 54 detainees who are challenging their imprisonment at the Navy base in Cuba. On Thursday, Green agreed that the government may seek the appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit because her order directly conflicts with a decision by another federal judge who considered a similar case brought by a different group of detainees. Green also halted legal proceedings in that case pending the appeals but said detainees should have access to certain classified material, such as why detainees are being held. Green said there was no “substantial ground” for confusion over that issue. Information such as details of alleged torture, however, will probably be withheld as part of Green’s broader stay order, said Michael Ratner, president of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which is representing many of the detainees. Judges have tried to sort out detainee rights since a Supreme Court ruling last summer that federal courts are open to appeals on behalf of foreigners. Detainees from about 40 different countries have been held in Cuba — some for more than three years — without being charged with any crimes. Green’s order on Monday said detainees had legal grounds to sue in federal court after finding that the hearing system set up by the Pentagon to determine whether the prisoners were “enemy combatants” was unconstitutional. Last month, however, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon dismissed suits by seven detainees, saying “no viable legal theory exists” for a court to order the detainees’ release. Typically, the government must wait to appeal when there is a final resolution of cases. But government lawyers argued in filing Thursday that the clear conflict between the two judges’ decisions as well as security risks demanded an immediate appellate review. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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