Lawyers for Palestinian Jailed on "Secret Evidence" Say INS Judge Flouted Order to Disclose Documents

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
September 5, 2000 12:00 am

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MIAMI, FL – Lawyers for jailed Palestinian immigrant, Dr. Mazen Al-Najjar, filed a motion today asking a federal judge to prohibit the Immigration and Naturalization Service from continuing to detain their client without presenting a summary of the “secret evidence” on which Al-Najjar has been held these past three years.

Dr. Al-Najjar is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and other immigrants rights group, who oppose a 1996 that allows the government to deport aliens, including people in the country legally, using secret evidence.

They are now pushing for a vote on the “Secret Evidence Repeal Act,” before Congress recesses in early October. For more information, go to http://archive.aclu.org/congress/rightsecret.html.

The groups’ 16-page request asks Judge Joan A. Lenard to compel Immigration Judge Kevin McHugh to follow-through with her May 31st order, in which she ruled that the INS had violated the Fifth Amendment by not allowing Dr. Al-Najjar or his attorneys the opportunity to review or rebut the evidence that purportedly links him to the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a group the United States government has designated as “terrorist.”

Contrary to Judge Lenard’s ruling, Immigration Judge McHugh agreed at last week’s bond hearing to consider the classified evidence without establishing any safeguards designed to preserve Dr. Al-Najjar’s due process rights.

On Aug. 31st, three days into the second bond hearing, Dr. Al-Najjar’s lawyers stopped the proceedings just as the government was about to share the secret information with Judge McHugh without the presence of Dr. Al Najjar’s defense team.

In response to Judge McHugh’s refusal to release an unclassified summary of the secret evidence, Al-Najjar’s attorneys requested a stay in the proceedings in order to file the emergency motion in federal court to compel him to comply with Judge Lenard’s order.

Earlier this year, ACLU President Nadine Strossen visited Dr. Al-Najjar at the detention center here. Her account of the interview is online at http://www.intellectualcapital.com/issues/issue375/item9376.asp.

For more background information on this case, go to http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/n082900.html.

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