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Federal prosecutors appeal injunction on indefinite detention law

Federal prosecutors filed an appeal on Monday seeking to end an injunction barring enforcement of a US law that allows authorities to detain certain suspects indefinitely if they are found to have aided al Qaeda, the Taliban or "associated forces." A judge for the US District Court Southern District of New York [official website] issued an injunction against the law in May, and clarified in the following weeks that her injunction should be interpreted broadly [JURIST reports]. Judge Katherine Forrest found that the statute was too vague and threatened the First Amendment [text] rights of journalists and citizens. The lawsuit was brought by journalists and activists who opposed the controversial provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) [text, PDF]. Lawyers for the government filed their appeal [Reuters report] with the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website].

Since 2001, anti-terrorism laws and military detentions in the US have been the subject of much controversy and litigation. In May federal prosecutors asked Forrest to lift the injunction [JURIST report] she placed earlier that month. Forrest disagreed with the government that the law was merely an affirmation of the President's authority under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), finding that the law violates First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and Fifth Amendment [text] due process rights. President Barack Obama signed the NDAA into law [JURIST report] on December 31, 2011. Upon signing, he noted [statement], "I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation." Both houses of Congress reached an agreement [JURIST report] on the language of the NDAA's most controversial sections in mid-December.

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