We need more pushback like this. An American citizen in US custody doesn’t have the right to contest his detention or the decision to transfer him to foreign custody? What is wrong with these people?
A federal appeals court blocked the Pentagon on Friday from transferring an American citizen to an Iraqi court to face charges he supported terrorists and insurgents.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously ruled that Shawqi Omar, a citizen of both Jordan and the United States who once served in the Minnesota National Guard, has a right to argue for his release before a U.S. court.
By a 2-1 vote, the panel also upheld an injunction issued last year by U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina here that barred the U.S. military from turning Omar over for trial in an Iraqi court.
“This is a case about whether a U.S. citizen can be cast into a legal black hole, with no means to challenge the basis for his detention,” said Aziz Huq, Omar’s attorney. “The court today reaffirmed the Supreme Court’s view that war is not a blank check as far as a citizen’s liberty is concerned.”
Omar was captured in Iraq in 2004 by U.S. forces during a raid on associates of Iraq al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a U.S. air strike in 2006. Omar is imprisoned at Camp Bucca, in southern Iraq. He was been held in several camps for over two years without formal charges and, his family says, without access to counsel.
The U.S. military says Omar was harboring insurgents and had bomb-making materials at the time of his arrest. The military decided in 2005 to transfer him to the Central Criminal Court of Iraq for trial but has been blocked by the U.S. court injunction.
That order was issued in response to a lawsuit filed here by Omar’s wife, Sandra, and son, Ahmed, on his behalf in 2005.
They demanded that Omar be brought before a U.S. court, where prosecutors would have to show probable cause for detaining him and he could consult an attorney.