Political News

US argues against ACLU accessing American accused of fighting for ISIS

Posted October 31, 2017 5:30 p.m. EDT

— The Trump administration argued against granting the ACLU access to an unnamed US citizen detained for allegedly fighting for ISIS in Syria, according to a motion filed in federal court Monday.

Government attorneys filed the response in the US District Court for the District of Columbia after the civil rights group petitioned the court for "immediate and unmonitored access" to the individual who was turned over to US forces by the US-backed Kurdish-led group fighting in ISIS last month.

The individual is currently being held in Iraq.

At the time, the Defense Department said the International Committee of the Red Cross had been notified of the detention and was working with US authorities to organize a visit, which according to the government's filing has now taken place.

In its filing, the government argued that since the ACLU has no "significant relationship" with the detainee, it "cannot show that it would act in the detainee's best interests when it has never conferred with the detainee in order to learn what those interests are," according to the filing.

Previous Supreme Court precedents establishing a degree of deference to the executive branch in matters of military and national security were also cited by the administration.

"The Trump administration cannot circumvent the courts and deny due process to a US citizen for weeks on end. The military's indefinite detention of an American citizen without access to a judge or lawyer is an affront to the rule of law," Jonathan Hafetz of the ACLU said in a written statement.

"The government says Red Cross access is enough, but the Red Cross does not provide legal assistance, and the mere visit by a Red Cross official does not satisfy an American citizen's bedrock right to challenge his detention before a judge," Hafetz said.

Marine Corps Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway told CNN at the time of his apprehension, the individual "is being legally detained by Department of Defense personnel as a known enemy combatant."

Justice Department spokesperson Wyn Hornbuckle told CNN: "As a part of the President's national security team, the Department of Justice recognizes the wide range of tools and authorities that the President possesses to protect our national security and to defeat our terrorist adversaries. All options remain on the table, and the Justice Department will continue to use every lawful investigative and prosecutorial tool to achieve these objectives."

This is not the first incident where a US citizen has been detained by US allies in the region for allegedly fighting for ISIS. An American citizen was captured by Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq in March 2016.