Guantanamo prisoner known as Hambali seeks release

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Guantanamo Bay detainee accused of helping plan the 2002 bombings in the Indonesian resort area of Bali that killed more than 200 people on Thursday revived his legal bid to be released from the U.S. military prison.

A habeas petition was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington on behalf of Riduan Isamuddin, who is also known as Hambali. He was a senior member of the Asian group linked to al Qaeda Jemaah Islamiah.

He also has been accused of helping arrange financing for the bombing of the Jakarta Marriott Hotel in 2003 and U.S. authorities say he admitted that 17 of his operatives were being groomed for attacks in the United States.

A U.S. Justice Department spokesman had no comment on the filing. He said no final decision has been made on whether to prosecute Hambali in a military court or in a U.S. federal court or on the location for any prosecution.

His lawyer said Hambali had completed a form that requested the appointment of counsel in 2007 in the U.S. Court of Appeals when that was the proper place to file petitions seeking review of detention at Guantanamo.

But there were delays, for various reasons, in attempting to visit Hambali at Guantanamo and in getting the petition filed, the attorney said in a letter to the court last month.

The attorney said the case should go forward in the U.S. District Court, which is now the proper place for Guantanamo prisoners to file petitions seeking their release. Hambali’s case, filed on Thursday, was assigned to U.S. District Judge John Bates.

There currently are 188 prisoners at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The Obama’s administration’s efforts to close the prison have been delayed by political and legal hurdles.

Reporting by James Vicini, Editing by Doina Chiacu