US plans to release American captured in Syria in September

10 June, 2018, 18:23 | Author: Myra Gill
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An unidentified man, who holds a dual Saudi-U.S. citizenship, has been held in Iraq by the U.S. military for about nine months.

The military said it would return the clothing the man was wearing when he was captured and give him $4,210 in cash, an un-activated cell phone, and enough food and water "to last several days".

But his legal representative, the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately said it would fight the release into war-torn Syria, which it called a "death warrant" for the man. A court hearing is set for Friday in Washington. The administration seems eager to avoid litigating this issue, especially concerning this detainee, who has protections as a US citizen and does not appear to be a high-level fighter.

"What the government is offering our client is no release - it's a death warrant", Hafetz said in a statement. "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.

"Accordingly, out of an abundance of caution, the Department is filing this Notice of its intent to release Petitioner in the town specified in the Declaration", the filing says.

The Pentagon also disclosed that it had listened in on 18 telephone conversations between the man and his ACLU attorneys as part of "routine security monitoring of DOD telecommunications systems" - calling it an "inadvertent breach" of attorney-client confidentiality that it "regrets".

Ladin said the US -born detainee is seeking a "safe release".

Justice Department lawyers said in a two-page court filing that releasing the man in Syria was "consistent with the traditional military practice" by U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, and "with the Department's obligation under the law of war".

The suspect, who been held by the USA military in Iraq, was offered the choice of camp or town but has declined to choose.


Hafetz said the government could release the man in Iraq, where he has been held, giving him a chance to request a new passport at the U.S. consulate there.

That means he could be freed as soon as Saturday evening, unless a federal judge blocks the plan.

The man surrendered in mid-September to USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria.

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".

The unnamed individual has been detained as an enemy combatant in Iraq since September.

Government filings show the man told the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he worked for the Islamic State guarding a gas field and monitoring civilians.

In a sign of the novel, significant questions raised by the case, the appeals court said in its ruling, "We know of no instance - in the history of the United States - in which the government has forcibly transferred an American citizen from one foreign country to another". Court documents filed by the government say that when he surrendered he was carrying thumb drives containing thousands of files, including files on how to make improvised explosive devices and bombs.

The Islamic state suffered heavy losses during the battles in Syria. His court appeals established that detainees had legal rights under US law.

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