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US prosecutors ask judge to reverse ruling blocking anti-terrorism law

Federal prosecutors on Friday asked Judge Katherine Forrest of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] to lift an injunction [opinion, PDF] she placed earlier this month on sections of the National Defense Authorization Act [text, PDF] that allow for the indefinite military detention of suspected terrorists. Forrest agreed [JURIST report] with a group of reporters who claimed that the law was vague and violated their First Amendment [text] rights to freedom of speech and Fifth Amendment [text] due process rights. The prosecutors urge that indefinite military detention is necessary in some cases. Plaintiff Chris Hedges, a prize-winning journalist, however, said the law went too far and Forrest was correct [Truthdig report] to grant an injunction against it. He said the law was not about foreign terrorism but was an attack on domestic disagreement with the government that could have been used against any group of protesters, such as the Occupy movement, if the government could show some link to terrorism.

Since 2001, anti-terrorism laws and military detentions in the US have been the subject of much controversy and litigation. Last month a convicted terrorist appealed dismissal of his case [JURIST report] challenging alleged unlawful detention in a military court in South Carolina as an "enemy combatant" to the Supreme Court. Last year President Barack Obama signed an extension [JURIST report] of the controversial Patriot Act [JURIST news archive], which allows the government to use means such as wiretapping and other electronic devices to obtain materials relevant to terrorism investigations, through 2015. In 2010 a federal court upheld [JURIST report] the government's indefinite detention of an Afghan detainee at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder].

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