Judge Blocks U.S. Attempt to Send American Detained Abroad to Another Country

U.S. Citizen Has Been Held by U.S. Military in Iraq Without Charges for Over Seven Months

April 19, 2018 1:00 pm

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WASHINGTON — A federal court has prevented the Trump administration from transferring an American held by the U.S. military in Iraq since September to another country.

The preliminary injunction was issued by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan today following a hearing on the issue this morning.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the U.S. citizen in his habeas corpus challenge to his detention, opposed the transfer after the government sent a required 72-hour notice of its plans on Monday night. The name of the destination country is redacted from court filings.

“This ruling is a victory for the rule of law,” said ACLU attorney Jonathan Hafetz, who argued in court today. “The court is rightly protecting this U.S. citizen’s constitutional rights and checking the Trump administration’s excessive claims of executive power. The government cannot do whatever it pleases with a U.S. citizen without judicial review and a basis in law. The long detention of this American is illegal, and forcibly transferring him to another country would have further violated his rights by removing him from the jurisdiction of the American legal system, denying him the opportunity to win his freedom from a U.S. court. After over seven months of imprisonment, the government should either charge or release him. That’s how our justice system works.”

The U.S. is detaining the American as an “enemy combatant” for allegedly being an ISIS fighter, an accusation the American has denied in court filings.

In the case, the ACLU has argued that the executive cannot circumvent Congress by imprisoning Americans based on statutes authorizing military force for different wars against different adversaries.

The judge’s opinion is here:

All documents filed in the case are here:

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