NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union told a court today that its attorneys have talked to a U.S. citizen who has been held by the U.S. military in Iraq for almost four months without charge, and he said that he wants to challenge his detention in court and have the ACLU represent him.
The attorneys spoke to the American on Wednesday via a video link at the Pentagon following a December 23 court decision ordering the government to give the ACLU unmonitored access to the man to determine his wishes. In addition to stating his desire to pursue the habeas corpus petition that the ACLU had filed on his behalf while he was held incommunicado, the citizen expressed concerns about his name being released and asked that it not be made public.
The U.S. has been holding the citizen since mid-September as an “enemy combatant” for allegedly fighting for ISIS, but it has provided no evidence to support this assertion. The Trump administration opposed the ACLU’s legal challenge and its offer of assistance to the American even after it was confirmed through the litigation that he had asked for a lawyer.
In a filing today, the ACLU informed the court of the citizen’s wishes and asked that the government be ordered to justify his detention.
“The Trump administration illegally denied an American his rights to access a lawyer and a court for nearly four months, but those efforts have finally failed,” said ACLU attorney Jonathan Hafetz. “Now that our client has secured the judicial review that the government attempted to block, he looks forward to establishing the illegality of his detention.”
The court’s December 23 ruling also ordered the government not to transfer the citizen to another country until his wishes were known. (The New York Times previously reported that the Trump administration was considering transferring him to Saudi Arabia.) The ACLU also asked the court today to prohibit the government from transferring the citizen until it decides the citizen’s challenge to his detention.
Today’s ACLU court filing is here:
All documents filed in the case are here: