A federal judge late Saturday night ordered the Trump administration to allow the American Civil Liberties Union immediate and unmonitored access to an American secretly detained by the US military in Iraq for months, in order to ascertain whether he wants to challenge his detention in court and whether he wants to be represented by the ACLU or other counsel.
A USA citizen being held without charges in Iraq must be allowed to meet with a lawyer to see if he wants to challenge his detention, a federal judge has ordered.
Chutkan ruled that the Defense Department should provide the ACLU with "temporary, immediate and unmonitored access" to the man to determine if he wants the organisation to pursue a habeas corpus petition on his behalf and provide him with legal advice.
"It's critical that the judge has rejected the Trump administration's attempt to thwart judicial scrutiny of the detention of a USA citizen", said ACLU attorney Jonathan Hafetz, who argued in court on the issue on December 11. The judge also ordered the Defense Department not to transfer the detainee until the ACLU tells the court of the detainee's wishes. "Ensuring citizens detained by the government have access to a lawyer and a court is essential to preserving the Constitution and the rule of law in America".
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The man hasn't been charged with a crime, but the US government has continued to detain him while officials try to decide how to handle his case.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, ACLU director Anthony Romero had warned the man - apparently being held in Iraq - should not be deemed an "enemy combatant", the term the United States used in the 2000s to hold terror suspects without charge or representation.
In response to a court order issued during the first hearing in the case on November 30, the government informed the court that the Federal Bureau of Investigation agents questioning the American "for law enforcement purposes" advised him of his Miranda rights and that he has asked for a lawyer.
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