Federal judge prohibits US government from transferring American citizen being detained in Iraq

Federal judge prohibits US government from transferring American citizen being detained in Iraq

A federal judge on Thursday enjoined [text, PDF] the US government from sending a US citizen who has been detained in Iraq for almost a year to another country.

This order follows the American Civil Liberty Union’s request [text, PDF] to temporarily block the detainee’s transference until the US government could produce legal authority that supported moving him to a third country.

Federal District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan issued [NPR report] the preliminary injunction a few minutes before the deadline to stop the unnamed citizen from being moved to a third country passed.

The detainee was taken into custody last September by the Syrian and US militaries. The man claimed [NYT report] that he was in Syria for journalism related purposes but he has also conceded to guarding a gas field and monitoring people for the Islamic State. The US government suspected that he had ties to IS because the extremist group’s recruitment files have him listed as a fighter. He was also found with $4,000 on his person and two flash drives t that contained thousands of photographs, including photos of military handbooks and guides on how to make bombs.

The ACLU wrote:

The executive has imprisoned Petitioner without charge for nearly seven months. It would make a mockery of the Great Writ if the executive could not strip this American citizen of his right to seek his freedom by rending him to the custody of another country without established legal authority. In short, it violates the public interest to give the executive carte blanche over the liberty of American citizens based on the fiction that a forcible transfer to the custody of another government is equivalent to release from unlawful custody.

At a Friday hearing, Chutkan said she took the government’s concerns into consideration when making her decision but continued to be mindful of the unnamed detainee’s American citizenship.