Saturday, 23 June, 2018

Pentagon Plans to Release Detained US Citizen Into Syria

Pentagon wants to release in Syria a U.S. citizen it accused of joining Islamic State his lawyers call that a 'death warrant' U.S. plans to release detained American 'enemy combatant' in Syria
Kenny Thornton | 10 June, 2018, 19:14

The Trump administration submitted a notice Wednesday to Chutkan saying it had determined it would release the man in Syria in "no sooner than 72 hours".

According to a court filing unsealed in February, the detainee first travelled to Syria in July 2014, returning in March 2015.

The man, who is not named in court filings, has been represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, which says the government's plan is unacceptable. He's been held without charge in a USA military detention facility in Iraq since he surrendered on the Syrian battlefield in September.

The man was born in the United States to Saudi parents.

The unusual case has raised significant questions about how the courts balance national security interests with the constitutional rights of USA citizens caught in conflict zones.

The US military has held "John Doe" since September. "But instead of offering a safe release, they want to dump an American citizen onto the side of a road in a war-torn country without protection or identification", the group added. The warplanes "bombed this morning on Thursday a so-called command and control center containing leaders and fighters belonging to [IS] terrorist gang in the Hajin inside Syrian territory", the military said.

A spokesman for the Defense Department declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

'What the government is offering our client is no release - it's a death warrant.

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In April, CNN reported that the government had been denied permission to transfer the man to a country with a "strong" and "sovereign interest" by a DC district judge. References in the filing suggested the country was Saudi Arabia, although the country was not disclosed publicly.

USA authorities will return an American man suspected of fighting for ISIS to Syria, despite the prisoner's objections, in what a civil liberty group has branded a "disgraceful" decision.

Ladin said the US -born detainee is seeking a "safe release". Hafetz said releasing his client in Syria would be akin to "releasing him into a burning building".

Wednesday's notice by Justice Department attorneys seemed meant to head off further litigation on that front while probably provoking a fresh round of appeals over when the government can forcibly release a citizen. His court appeals established that detainees had legal rights under USA law.

"I think the question for the district court is going to be whether the release the government has contemplated really will put Doe in significant jeopardy", as the ACLU claims, Vladeck said.

Chutkan asked: "Didn't he voluntarily take himself to Syria?"

Last month, in a victory for the detainee, a federal appeals court ruled that the US could not "forcibly transfer" him to a third-party country such as Saudi Arabia, where he has dual citizenship, without proving to a court that he had fought for the enemy.

"Now, our fight for our client's right to due process has also become a fight for his right to life. We'll be asking the court to immediately intervene and ensure the safe release of our client", the statement continued.

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