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US prosecutors defend al-Marri 'enemy combatant' detention conditions as humane

[JURIST] US federal prosecutors defended the prison treatment of accused enemy combatant Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri [Brennan Center case materials; NYT profile] in documents filed Tuesday with the US Court of Appeal for the Fourth Circuit. Prosecutors say that although al-Marri is kept in solitary confinement, he has access to a library, TV, computer, and exercise equipment. Lawyers for al-Marri said last month that the conditions of his detention were having a negative affect on his health, but prosecutors say that al-Marri enjoys much more than most military detainees, including the use of a 1,000-square-foot room and nearby cells during the day.

Last week, a lawyer for al-Marri argued in a letter [PDF text; JURIST report] submitted to the Fourth Circuit that a 2003 US Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel memorandum [PDF text] and a 2001 memorandum cited in the 2003 document demonstrate that al-Marri's detention "lacks legal basis" as the detention was based on now-discredited legal opinions. The appeals court is currently considering al-Marri's challenge to his designation as an enemy combatant [JURIST news archive]. In October 2007, the court held an en banc rehearing [JURIST report] of its earlier ruling [PDF text; JURIST report] that the military cannot seize and imprison civilians lawfully residing in the United States and detain them indefinitely as "enemy combatants." Al-Marri was arrested at his home in Peoria, Illinois by civilian authorities in 2001, and was indicted for alleged domestic crimes. In 2003, President George W. Bush declared him an enemy combatant [CNN report] and ordered the attorney general to transfer custody of al-Marri to the defense secretary, claiming inherent authority to hold him indefinitely. AP has more.

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