ACLU challenges detainment of US citizen accused of fighting for ISIS
The ACLU filed a brief in federal court on behalf of a U.S. citizen accused of fighting for ISIS. The brief requests that the unnamed individual, who was captured in Syria and is being detained in Iraq, gain access to a lawyer and a trial in court.

By Joseph Scalise | Jul 28, 2017

The American Civil Liberties Union petitioned a federal court Thursday to grant an American citizen captured in a combat zone in Syria last month access to a lawyer and a trial in criminal court. The individual, whose name the Defense Department refused to disclose, is currently in a U.S. military prison in Iraq as an "unlawful enemy combatant" who is facing accusations of being an ISIS fighter.

The Pentagon reported that U.S. forces first took the man in September 14 from the Syrian Democratic Forces, a mostly Kurdish militia fighting with U.S. support against ISIS in Syria. Since entering into U.S. custody, he has not had any access to a lawyer, so the ACLU filed its brief on his behalf.

"Military detention of this U.S. citizen is both unlawful and unnecessary," said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU's National Security Project, 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."

Shamsi called on the Trump administration to "do the right thing here," which means removing the man from indefinite detainment and placing him in the custody of the Justice Department for prosecution. The Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that the government can detain a U.S. citizen as an "enemy combatant" but that he or she has the right to challenge the detainment before a neutral decision-maker.

The Trump administration is reportedly considering handing him over to the Iraqi government, however. This would subject him to Iraq's court system, which faces multiple accusations of torture, prisoner abuse, and corruption.


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