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U.S. hearings again sought for three detainees

WASHINGTON — Lawyers for three men who have been imprisoned by the U.S. military in Afghanistan without trial for nearly a decade are renewing their quest for hearings in U.S. courts. They say new information has emerged that undermines an appeals court ruling against them two years ago.

That information — which the lawyers are filing as documents in the U.S. District Court here — includes a letter by the chief of staff to President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan declaring that the Afghan government does not want custody of the detainees and that it “favors these individuals having access to a fair judicial process, and adjudication of their case by a competent court.”

The prisoners are two Yemenis and a Tunisian who say they were captured outside Afghanistan and that they are not terrorists. They want a federal judge, John D. Bates, to review the evidence against them and, if he agrees that they are being held by mistake, to order the military to repatriate them. Detainees imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, already have such habeas corpus rights.

There are believed to be about a dozen such men — non-Afghans captured elsewhere — who have been imprisoned for years by the U.S. military at Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul.

In 2009, Bates ruled that he could hold hearings for the three, but in 2010 an appeals-court panel unanimously reversed him. It cited an array of factors, including potential practical obstacles to extending Guantanamo-style habeas rights to a prison in a war zone.

The appeals court also said that U.S. courts should be wary of extending constitutional protections to detainees on Afghan soil because it might have negative diplomatic consequences. But Ramzi Kassem, a City University of New York law professor who is helping represent the detainees, said the letter from Karzai’s chief of staff called that premise into question.

—Charlie Savage, The New York Times

Insider trading trial witness given probation

NEW YORK — A former Intel executive who leaked secret information about his employer to Raj Rajaratnam, the fallen hedge fund billionaire, avoided prison on Monday when a judge sentenced him to two years’ probation.

The former executive, Rajiv Goel, provided prosecutors with extensive assistance in prosecuting Rajaratnam. During the hedge fund titan’s trial in 2011, Goel was one of the three crucial government witnesses who testified against him.

The other two witnesses — Anil Kumar, a former McKinsey & Co. executive, and Adam Smith, a Harvard-educated former Galleon Group trader — also received probationary sentences. Rajaratnam is now serving an 11-year sentence at a federal prison in Massachusetts.

Judge Barbara S. Jones, who sentenced Goel in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, said that she had given him probation because of his extraordinary help in building a case against Rajaratnam and his essential testimony during the trial. She also noted that he had already paid a price for his crimes.

“You showed good sense in deciding to cooperate,” the judge said. “You have already been punished in the sense of the shame you feel for your family and your having lost your career.”

The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan has charged 70 people with insider trading crimes since 2009. Of those, 64 have either pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial.

Many of the defendants served as pawns in the sprawling insider trading conspiracy orchestrated by Rajaratnam, who ran the hedge fund Galleon Group. At the height of his powers, Rajaratnam managed more than $7 billion and was considered one of Wall Street’s savviest stock pickers.

—Peter Lattman, The New York Times