Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

US to Release American 'Enemy Combatant' Held in Iraq

US to Release American 'Enemy Combatant' Held in Iraq

US military officials plan to release an American citizen accused of supporting the Islamic State "under safe conditions", and with $4,210 and a new cellphone near the Syrian town where he was first captured in September, according to a new filing Thursday in the unusual case.

Justice Department lawyers representing the USA military in the case made a commitment not to release the man until at least June 21st during an appearance in federal court on Friday, according to Dror Ladin, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the detainee in the case.

The Defense Department "has taken all necessary and feasible precautions to ensure the safe release of petitioner", according to a court filing.

Iraq has good relations with Iran and Russia, Assad's main backers in the Syrian civil war, while also enjoying strong support from the US -led coalition.

Hafetz said he will challenge the government's plan to release the man, who has been described in court papers as an electrical engineer with a wife and young child who has sporadically visited the U.S.

The man, who is not named in court filings, has been represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, which says the government's plan is unacceptable.

On Friday, Chutkan suggested some support for the government's proposal, telling ACLU attorney Jonathan Hafetz that Syria was where the man was before he surrendered.

The US government has released Wednesday ISIS member, with dual nationalities, who was detained for more than eight months in a military base in Iraq, following cases in courts and protests from humanitarian organizations.

"Ideally, the government would offer a safe release", he said.

The US military has held "John Doe" since September. The Iraqi Air Force carried out several airstrikes against IS in Syria since a year ago, with the approval of the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad and the US-led coalition, Reuters said. "Our fight for our client's right to due process has also become a fight for his right to life", Hafetz added.

In court papers, the US has said the man joined the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, in 2014 in Syria, and that the man attended a training camp, pledged allegiance to its leader and was listed in an ISIS document as a "fighter". He is said to have submitted work to USA media outfits in 2014.

That would bring us back to the question that a divided panel of the D.C. Circuit resolved in Doe's favor in May with respect to the government's proposal to transfer Doe to one of two classified countries (that were nearly certainly Saudi Arabia and Iraq), i.e.

A federal appeals court in Washington agreed and upheld another court order blocking the suspect's transfer to another country's custody.

"The release plan sounds insane at first blush, but you have to keep in mind that Doe voluntarily went to Syria to begin with", said Bobby Chesney, an expert in national security law at the University of Texas School of Law.

The Pentagon gained custody of the detainee after he surrendered in September to a Syrian Kurdish militia backed by the United States and was delivered to the USA military. No court has yet ruled on whether the suspect's detention is lawful or not.

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