USA military to release suspected American Islamic State fighter in Syria

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The United States plans to release an American citizen detained as an enemy combatant in Syria - a move the man's attorney said amounts to a "death warrant".

Justice Department lawyers representing the US military in the case made a commitment not to release the man until at least June 21st during an appearance in federal court on Friday, according to Dror Ladin, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the detainee in the case.

The Trump administration submitted a notice Wednesday to a federal court in Washington saying it had determined it would release the man, who has been held without charge in a US military detention facility in Iraq since he surrendered on the Syrian battlefield in September.

The circumstances of the man's detention have become a test case for how the government should treat US citizens picked up on the battlefield and accused of having ties to ISIS militants battling the USA and its allies.

USA military to release suspected American Islamic State fighter in Syria
USA military to release suspected American Islamic State fighter in Syria

The ACLU said it is seeking the man's release in a safe place, not a war zone, and not having him handed over as a prisoner to another government. Once briefing on this new development begins, we will have much more to say both there and here. The state-believed to be Saudi Arabia-had confirmed that the man would not face torture.

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

On June 20, the ACLU and the Trump administration were supposed to meet in court and debate whether the USA government is lawfully detaining the man.

"He doesn't want to stay in prison but he doesn't want to go out where he is in grave danger", Hafetz said.


The man was questioned for USA intelligence purposes, but American officials said they lacked admissible evidence to charge him with a crime.

The Iraqi air force has carried out several air strikes against Islamic State in Syria since previous year, with the approval of the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad and the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State.

He talked to USA intelligence officers after he was taken into custody, but that evidence can't be used in court against him.

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


But his lawyers persuaded the court to block that, arguing that the United States government has no right to summarily hand a United States citizen over to another government with no charges or extradition proceedings.

In a statement, the ACLU's Hafetz noted the State Department has issued "do not travel" warnings for Syria, advising USA citizens who ignore them to leave DNA samples and draft a will.

Chutkan asked skeptical questions of the lawyers on each side exclaiming at one point, "As with everything in this case, we are in uncharted territory". "We'll be asking the court to immediately intervene and ensure the safe release of our client", the statement continued.

"Our fight for our client's right to due process has also become a fight for his right to life", Hafetz said.


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