Government, ACLU dispute release of American to Syria

Pentagon wants to release in Syria a U.S. citizen it accused of joining Islamic State his lawyers call that a 'death warrant'

Pentagon wants to release in Syria a U.S. citizen it accused of joining Islamic State his lawyers call that a 'death warrant'

The unnamed detainee would be at even greater risk than most other Americans because he has no identification paperwork and the USA government has publicly accused him of fighting with ISIS, Hafetz said. His attorneys have called that a "death warrant" and asked a judge to block the move.

U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan scheduled a hearing on the government plan for Friday morning.

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

The Pentagon is now seeking to release the detained American near where he was captured by Syrian Democratic Forces and turned over to the U.S. military, according to a declaration filed in U.S. District Court in Washington.

Iraq launched an air strike against an ISIS target inside neighbouring Syria on Thursday, the military said.

It's common in war detention settings, he said, to return someone to "the point of capture - at least if it's safe to do so, and that's one of the questions for the court".

ACLU attorneys for months fought - and won - the right to represent the man, arguing that because he is a citizen, the government should charge him with a crime that would be pursued in a US courtroom or release him.

He was reportedly assigned to be a fighter in the Zarqawi Brigade, a military unit that "guard [ed] the front lines" in Syria, where he procured fuel for ISIS vehicles, handled expenses and "performed other administrative tasks". He grew up in Saudi Arabia and also has Saudi citizenship.

The ACLU has said the case has could create a constitutional "black hole" if it gave the government carte blanche to hold any US citizen traveling overseas, such as journalists or tourists.


The administration had previously sought to transfer the man to an unidentified country, possibly Saudi Arabia.

The man has been detained as an enemy combatant for nine months, and his detention has become a test case for how the government should treat USA citizens picked up on the battlefield and accused of having ties to IS extremists battling America and its allies.

The plan is to give him food and water "for several days", a new cellphone, and the $4,210 he was originally captured with, but no identification, and leave him on his own in northeastern Syria where the SDF dominate.

"Accordingly, out of an abundance of caution, the department is filing this notice of its intent to release petitioner (Doe) in the town specified", it said. This is a disgraceful way to treat an American citizen.

The man was born in the United States to Saudi parents. He attended college and studied electrical engineering in Louisiana, is married and has a 3-year-old daughter whom he tried to register as an American citizen on two trips to the United States in 2014, according to court filings. The detainee said he had press credentials to do freelance writing about the conflict in Syria, though the Federal Bureau of Investigation hasn't found any published articles or blogs he wrote.

The Justice Department said it would release him in the unspecified town "no sooner than 72 hours hence".

The filing includes assurances from the government that the group has committed to "respect human rights and the rule of law" and has acted consistently with those commitments.

Prosecutors have alleged that "by his own admission", the man joined Islamic State in 2014, attended a training camp "and worked for and provided support to" the group until the US -led military offensive in Iraq and Syria forced him to flee.

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