Military officially drops charges against Mohammed Jawad

WASHINGTON — The Department of Defense on Friday officially dismissed all charges against Mohammed Jawad, the Afghan Guantanamo detainee whose release was ordered Thursday by a U.S. district judge.

Pentagon prosecutor Navy Capt. John Murphy notified the military commission that charges were being withdrawn in a one-sentence filing that provided no reason for the dismissal. Attached was an order withdrawing the charged from the Pentagon's so-called convening authority, Susan J. Caldwell, who is the Pentagon's top legal officer in military commission matters.

The withdrawal of the military charges increases the likelihood that Jawad will be returned to Afghanistan by late August. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle ruled that Jawad was being detained illegally at Guantanamo and ordered the Obama administration to release him by Aug. 21 unless the Justice Department obtains an indictment against him in a civilian U.S. court. Justice Department attorneys have said they might try to develop evidence against him, but Jawad's attorneys say they believe it's unlikely he'll be charged.

Jawad, who's been imprisoned at Guantanamo for nearly seven years, was charged Oct. 9, 2007, with throwing a hand grenade that wounded two American soldiers and their interpreter, in a Kabul, Afghanistan, market. Last November, however, a military judge ruled that Jawad's confession was the result of torture and could not be used in court. Without the confession, there was no other evidence linking Jawad to the attack.

Jawad's age is in dispute. Pentagon officials have said that based on medical tests they believe he was 17 when he was first imprisoned. But Afghan officials say he may have been as young as 12.