On October 5, the ACLU Foundation filed a habeas corpus petition on behalf of an unidentified U.S. citizen unlawfully detained by the U.S. military in Iraq since approximately September 14 for allegedly fighting with the Islamic State group in Syria. The military has refused to make the citizen’s identity public or grant him access to counsel or a court.

The filing in federal district court in Washington asks the court to order the Pentagon to give the U.S. citizen the opportunity to obtain legal assistance by putting him in secure contact with ACLU attorneys. It also asks the court to find that the military detention is unlawful and to rule that the only lawful basis to detain him is under properly filed federal criminal charges.

The secret, indefinite detention of an American citizen without charge and without meaningful access to a court violates the Constitution’s guarantee of due process. The U.S. citizen should accordingly be transferred to the civilian federal court system immediately. If the Trump administration will not respect the citizen’s rights, then the courts must step in to protect them.

Because the government is denying the citizen both access to counsel and the ability to challenge his detention himself, the ACLU filed as a “next friend” of the American to inform him of his rights and to give him the chance to have legal representation.

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