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Ninth Circuit orders release of Sri Lanka asylum seeker detained 4 years

[JURIST] A Sri Lankan man seeking asylum in the US is expected to be released shortly after being held in prison for four years. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ordered the release of Ahilan Nadarajah Friday, holding that the US government was violating federal law by detaining Nadarajah without charge or the possibility of deportation. Nadarajah fled to the US in 2001 after he was abused by government forces in Sri Lanka and accused of being a member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam [CFR profile], which is considered a terrorist group by the US.

The court ruled that the US government does not have the power to detain aliens indefinitely under the Supreme Court's ruling in Zadvydas v. Davis [text]. Instead, the government may only hold aliens without charge while deportation was reasonably foreseeable. Nadarajah had been granted asylum twice by immigration judges, but the government refused to release him. Read the court's opinion [PDF text]. AP has more.

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