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BREAKING NEWS ~ Federal appeals court denies Padilla transfer from military custody

[JURIST] AP is reporting that the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] has denied the Bush administration's request to transfer Jose Padilla [JURIST news archive] from military to civilian law enforcement custody. Padilla, a US citizen, was detained over three years ago for allegedly planning to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the US, but was indicted [JURIST report] in November on 11 other counts, including conspiracy to murder US nationals and providing material support to terrorists. The Justice Department then requested that Padilla be transferred from a Navy brig in South Carolina to DOJ custody. The Fourth Circuit did not immediately rule on the request [JURIST report], instead saying it needed more time to consider the transfer because the indictment [PDF text] contained different allegations than those on which Padilla was originally detained.

4:14 PM ET - The Fourth Circuit also denied a government request that the court withdraw its earlier opinion [JURIST report] in the case. The Fourth Circuit ruled [JURIST report] in September that the government could hold Padilla indefinitely as an "enemy combatant" without charge. That decision is currently on appeal to the US Supreme Court, although the Court has not yet decided whether to grant certiorari. Judge Michael Luttig wrote Wednesday:

Because we believe that the transfer of Padilla and the withdrawal of our opinion at the government's request while the Supreme Court is reviewing this court's decision of September 9 would compound what is, in the absence of explanation, at least an appearance that the government may be attempting to avoid consideration of our decision by the Supreme Court, and also because we believe that this case presents an issue of such especial national importance as to warrant final consideration by that court, even if only by denial of further review, we deny both the motion and suggestion. If the natural progression of this significant litigation to conclusion is to be pretermitted at this late date under these circumstances, we believe that decision should be made not by this court but, rather, by the Supreme Court of the United States.
Read the court's full decision [PDF].

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