The US is seeking to forcibly deport an American citizen accused of being a member of Isis from his current detention in Iraq to Syria, court documents have revealed.
A federal court notice filed in the US District court in Washington late on Wednesday noted that the Pentagon plans to return the unidentified “enemy combatant” to Syrian territory, despite his objections, in the next 72 hours.
The unusual case has raised questions over the circumstances in which the US has the right to detain its own citizens abroad, as well as the legality of deporting US nationals to third countries.
Isis ‘Beatles’ militants captured in Syria: ‘It is too late for a fair trial’
The dual US-Saudi national, whose identity is protected, was arrested by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) at a checkpoint in Syria last August before being turned over to US troops.
He has since been detained in US military custody in neighbouring Iraq without charge, and claims he was captured by Isis after travelling to Syria to work as a freelance journalist.
Previous attempts by officials to deport the suspected militant to Saudi Arabia, or transfer him over to the Iraqi authorities, were both blocked by US courts.
In a statement on Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which represents the unnamed man, said that it will ask for the “death warrant” release to be blocked.
The Trump administration says that existing laws allow the military discretion over both the transfer and release of people captured in operations outside the US. The ACLU, however, argues that their client should be tried with a crime in a US courtroom, or otherwise released.
Justice Department officials noted in the court filing that there is not sufficient evidence available to charge the man with any crime.
The case risks creating a “constitutional black hole” for US citizens that hold nationality of another country, ACLU lawyer Jonathan Hafetz warned.
“[The administration] wants to dump an American citizen onto the side of the road in a war-torn country without any assurances of protection and no identification,” he said.