Monday, 17 December, 2018

US to Release American 'Enemy Combatant' Held in Iraq

RTR3WKOJ US to Release American 'Enemy Combatant' Held in Iraq
Patty Aguilar | 10 June, 2018, 19:13

The Trump administration has told a federal court that it plans to release an American citizen accused of fighting with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq militant group and return him to Syria, but his lawyers say that's a "death warrant" and they will ask the court to intervene.

The circumstances of the man's detention have become a test case for how the government should treat US citizens picked up on the battlefield and accused of having ties to ISIS militants battling the USA and its allies.

In a hearing in the Washington federal court, Judge Tanya Chutkan asked Justice Department lawyers why there was a "rush" to release the man into a country so risky that the US State Department has warned against any travel and even advised potential visitors to "draft a will" first.

U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan scheduled a hearing on the government plan for Friday morning.

"Ideally, the government would offer a safe release", he said.

Emphasizing the unusual nature of the notice and the danger it poses, the filing adds that the Trump administration does not deport Syrians from the U.S.to Syria because, in the words of the Department of Homeland Security, doing so "would pose a serious threat to their personal safety".

Chutkan said she needed more information before deciding whether to allow the administration to send the detainee to Syria.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is representing the man who is referred to as "John Doe".

The U.S. has claimed for years that it is legally allowed to fight ISIS because of a 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the groups that planned and carried out the September 11 attacks. Hamdi eventually was sent to Saudi Arabia after he renounced his USA citizenship.

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The court agreed with the ACLU's argument that that would violate the U.S. constitutional rights of the man, who was born in the United States to a Saudi family.

The man has been detained as an enemy combatant for nine months, and his detention has become a test case for how the government should treat us citizens picked up on the battlefield and accused of having ties to IS extremists battling America and its allies.

In a statement, ACLU lawyer Jonathan Hafetz called the move "a disgraceful way to treat an American citizen".

The government has said in court filings that the man was born in the United States but raised in Saudi Arabia. The detainee, who has a degree in electrical engineering, is married with one child, according to court papers.

Government filings show the man told the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he worked for the Islamic State guarding a gas field and monitoring civilians.

However, according to the documents, the suspect claims to have been in Syria in an attempt to work as a journalist and had obtained press credentials. The FBI said it could find no evidence of articles he wrote.

The Justice Department said the US plans to release the dual US-Saudi national in a town in Syria, the name of which was not provided, no sooner than 72 hours from the time of the filing.

US officials also plan to notify the allied Syrian Democratic Forces that the man will likely be traveling through checkpoints and that the United States does not seek his detention, said Mitchell, a principal deputy assistant secretary.

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