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The government is asking an appeals court to throw out a judge's order to release a Guantanamo Bay prisoner accused of recruiting Sept. 11 hijackers.

The 9/11 commission report described Mohamedou Ould Salahi as a significant al-Qaida operative who instructed hijackers how to reach Afghanistan to train for jihad. Salahi says he falsely admitted under abusive interrogation to arranging travel for some of the hijackers.

Salahi has been held without charge for eight years at the Navy-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and remains there as lawyers prepare to argue over his release before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington on Friday.

U.S. District Judge James Robertson ruled this spring that the evidence against Salahi was "tainted by coercion and mistreatment" and based on classified material that could not support a criminal prosecution.

"The government's case relies heavily on statements made by Salahi himself, but the reliability of those statements — most of them now retracted by Salahi — is open to question," the judge wrote in his order.


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