ACLU challenges military detention of US citizen

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the military detention of a U.S. citizen accused of fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“Indefinite military detention without due process violates the most basic principles of our Constitution,” ACLU attorney Jonathan Hafetz said in a statement. “The U.S. government cannot imprison American citizens without charge or access to a judge.”

“It also cannot keep secret the most basic facts about their detention, including who they are, where they are being held, and on what authority they are being detained. The Trump administration should not resurrect the failed and unlawful policy of ‘enemy combatant’ detentions.”

{mosads}The Pentagon confirmed last month that it is detaining a U.S. citizen captured on the battlefield fighting for ISIS.

A Pentagon spokesman said at the time that the citizen surrendered to the Syrian Democratic Forces on or around Sept. 12 and was subsequently turned over to U.S. forces.

“The U.S. citizen is being legally detained by Department of Defense personnel as a known enemy combatant,” Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway said in the September statement.

The identity of the man has not been released, nor has the location where he is being held.

In the petition filed on Thursday against Defense Secretary James Mattis, the ACLU asked that he be charged with a federal criminal offense or be released.

The ACLU also asked that they be able to meet with the man, that any interrogations be stopped, that they be notified if he’s transferred to another U.S. facility or another nation and that his indefinite detention be declared unlawful.

The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed this week it met with the man, but per its confidential approach, did not disclose his name, location or conditions of detention.

The detention violates the Fourth and Fifth amendments, the ACLU argued. Further, they said, the authorization for the use of military force the U.S. uses to justify military detention of terrorism suspects does not apply because it authorizes force against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and there have been no allegations the man is connected to that.

“Military detention of this U.S. citizen is both unlawful and unnecessary,” Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project, said in a statement. “Fighting with a group like ISIS is a very serious allegation, and unlike the military, the federal court system unquestionably has jurisdiction to decide his case. Instead of continuing to deny a U.S. citizen his constitutional rights, the Trump administration has an opportunity to do the right thing here.” 

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