Former Attorney General John Ashcroft may be sued and held liable for wrongly detaining witnesses after the Sept. 11 attacks, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday.

In its decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that Abdullah Al-Kidd, a U.S. citizen detained as a material witness for two weeks, may sue the former attorney general for breaching his constitutional rights. Al-Kidd claimed during the case that his brief imprisonment caused him to lose a scholarship and crippled his chances of finding employment, according to The Associated Press.

"Al-Kidd was not arrested and detained because he had allegedly committed a crime," wrote Judge Milan B. Smith. "He alleges that he was arrested and confined because former United States Attorney General John Ashcroft (Ashcroft), subordinates operating under policies promulgated by Ashcroft, and others within the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), unlawfully used the federal material witness statute ... to investigate or preemptively detain him."