- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 6, 2018

An American citizen detained overseas by the U.S. military has asked the American Civil Liberties Union to sue the Trump administration for holding him as an enemy combatant.

The unidentified man spoke with ACLU attorneys this week and said they could challenge his detention in federal court, the ACLU wrote in a court filing entered Friday.

“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,” said ACLU attorney Jonathan Hafetz. “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 ACLU sued Defense Sectary James Mattis is October after learning that an American citizen was being held in Iraq by the U.S. military on suspicion of fighting for the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS, “without charge, without access to counsel and without access to a court.”

“If the government has legitimate grounds to suspect the citizen fought with ISIS, he should immediately be transferred to the federal criminal justice system for criminal charges,” ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said previously. “On no account should the Defense Department resurrect the past policy of ‘enemy combatant’ detention of U.S. citizens, which proved to be a legal and moral failure.”

The Pentagon argued against granting ACLU access to the individual, but a D.C. federal judge ruled against the government last month and ordered the Defense Department to put them in touch. ACLU lawyers subsequently spoke with the detainee via teleconference Wednesday and were asked for their assistance, according to Mr. Hafetz.

“Basically, the government for the last three months has fought tooth and nail to prevent a U.S. citizen from speaking to a lawyer and having his day in court,” Mr. Hafetz told NBC News. “When finally given the opportunity to speak, his message was loud and clear: I want my day in court and I want the lawyers of the ACLU to represent me to secure my freedom.”

“He’s been held unlawfully and he wants the opportunity to demonstrate there is no basis to hold him and he wants his release if there is no basis to hold him,” Mr. Hafetz added. “The bottom line is the government has to defend its detention.”

U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan has given the government until 5 p.m. on Monday to respond to the ACLU’s request, according to court filings.

“We are reviewing the filing,” Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said Friday, The Washington Post reported.

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