WASHINGTON – A federal judge ruled Saturday that the U.S. military must provide legal counsel to an American citizen who was picked up months ago on the Syrian war and accused of fighting with Islamic State militants.
The unknown American, who has not been charged, surrendered to the V. S.-backed fighters in Syria around Sept. 12 and is currently being held in Iraq as an illegal enemy combatant.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a court petition against his detention and ask to act on his behalf to give him access to a lawyer.
At the end of last month, the AMERICAN government has acknowledged that it has detained an American citizen accused of fighting with for months without his request for a lawyer. Respond to a court order, the government said that the man picked up on the Syrian battlefield indicated that he was willing to talk to FBI agents, but felt he should have a lawyer present.”
In her ruling, U. S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan denied by the Ministry of Defence of the motion to dismiss the case and ordered the military to let the ACLU “immediate and uncontrolled access to the inmate” so that he can determine whether he wants the ACLU to represent him. The judge ordered the Defence Ministry to not to transfer the inmate to the ACLU says the court of the detainee’s wishes.
“This is a historic judgement which rejects the Trump administration’s unprecedented attempt to block an American citizen challenging his supervisor, a prison sentence,” said Jonathan Hafetz, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU. “To ensure that civilians detained by the government have access to a lawyer and a judge is essential for the preservation of the Constitution and the rule of law in America.”
Kathryn Wyer, a lawyer in the Justice Department’s civil division, previously told the court that the U.S. army was working “diligently” on the matter, but had not yet decided what to do with the detainee. Wyer cited case law in which the executive power must be given a reasonable period of time to determine a detained individual’s status.
The government said that during an interrogation that the FBI special agents advised the detainee of his right to remain silent, even though he would have spoken previously to other interrogators. That was a clear reference to secret agents who are believed to have questioned the inmate first. The government said that the detainee also was aware of his right to a lawyer.
But the government also recognised that the detainee said he “understood his rights and said that he was willing to talk with the agents, but also stated that, because he was in a new phase (hearing), he felt that he by a lawyer is present.”