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POLITICS 01/05/2018 01:57 pm ET Updated Jan 05, 2018

American The U.S. Holds 'Incommunicado' Wants ACLU To Challenge His Detention

"John Doe," a suspected ISIS fighter, has been held overseas for months. headshot By Ryan J. Reilly

WASHINGTON ―An American being held by the U.S. government overseas for his alleged involvement with the so-called Islamic State wants the American Civil Liberties Union to challenge his detention.

The unnamed man has been held “incommunicado” for four months in Iraq, according to the judge who ordered the U.S. government allow the man to speak with ACLU attorneys last month.

Now, the civil liberties group is pushing to represent the man they say has been illegally detained. The ACLU said in a court filing on Friday that its attorneys were able to speak with “John Doe” via a video conference on Jan. 3.

“John Doe informed counsel for the [American Civil Liberties Union Foundation] that: (1) he wishes to continue this habeas corpus action; and (2) he wishes for the ACLUF to represent him in this action,” attorneys wrote.

“The Trump administration illegally denied an American his rights to access a lawyer and a court for nearly four months, but those efforts have finally failed,” ACLU attorney Jonathan Hafetz said in a press release. “Now that our client has secured the judicial review that the government attempted to block, he looks forward to establishing the illegality of his detention.”

The man, who still doesn’t wish to be identified, reportedly surrendered to the Syrian militia back in September and was handed over to the U.S. military. After the ACLU filed suit on his behalf, the Trump administration tried to argue that the ACLU couldn’t challenge his detention. The government’s arguments were met with heavy skepticism from U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan. The judge said she was not sure it was “conscionable” to allow the U.S. government to continue holding an American, essentially “incommunicado,” without allowing him to challenge his prolonged detention. Last month, she ordered the government to allow the man to speak with the ACLU.

The detention of the unnamed man, who is being held in Iraq, was first reported by The Daily Beast back in September. The Daily Beast noted the video conference interview took place on the man’s 114th day of detention.


  • American ISIS Suspect Requested A Lawyer, Justice Department Admits In New Filing
  • This Judge Isn't Buying The Trump Admin's Excuses For Holding A U.S. Citizen 'Incommunicado'
  • Federal Judge Slams Trump Administration's 'Circular Reasoning' For Imprisoning U.S. Citizen Without Access To Lawyer

Ryan Reilly is HuffPost’s senior justice reporter, covering criminal justice, federal law enforcement and legal affairs. Have a tip? Reach him at ryan.reilly@huffpost.com or on Signal at 202-527-9261.


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