DC Court to Hear ACLU Challenge to Military Detention of American Held for Over 2 Months

November 28, 2017 11:00 am

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WASHINGTON — A federal district court will hear oral argument Thursday on the indefinite detention of a U.S. citizen held secretly in U.S. military custody for over 2 1/2 months for allegedly fighting on behalf of ISIS in Syria. The judge will consider the American Civil Liberties Union’s request to be put in contact with the unidentified American so he has the opportunity to obtain legal assistance.

The U.S. citizen has been held by the military since approximately September 14 in Iraq, and he has reportedly asked at least twice for a lawyer. The ACLU filed a habeas corpus petition on the man’s behalf, demanding that the Trump administration justify its continued detention of the American without charges and without access to a court. The government has said that it is holding the citizen as an “enemy combatant.”

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

“The Trump administration is claiming the authority to detain a citizen for months without access to a judge or a lawyer based solely on its say so,” said ACLU attorney Jonathan Hafetz, who will argue in court Thursday. “Such unchecked power flouts the most basic principles of the Constitution, which give all Americans the right to challenge indefinite imprisonment in court.”

The case, ACLU Foundation v. Mattis, is in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

More on the rights of American citizens in military custody is here: https://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/detention/trump-administration-keeping-us-citizen-secretly-locked-without

All documents filed in the case are here: https://www.aclu.org/cases/aclu-foundation-v-mattis

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