The United States Department of Defense announced the release of a dual-nationality ISIS suspect, who was held up to 18 months with no charges after the Washington-backed Syrian Democratic Forces captured him in northeastern Syria and handed him over to US forces in Iraq.
American human rights groups welcomed the release. According to the Washington Post the man had been imprisoned since being turned over to American forces in September 2017 after he was captured at an SDF checkpoint soon after which he declared US citizenship.
The American Civil Liberties Union said the identity of the man and the country where he was released are protected by a court order to ensure his safety and that of his family.
“This is a victory our client fought for long and hard. The victory sends a strong message that the president cannot take away an American’s liberty without due process, and it shows the continuing importance of judicial review,” said his ACLU attorney, Jonathan Hafetz.
Hafetz said after federal courts forced the government to defend its “extreme and inaccurate claim of detention authority, the government opted instead to release him as a free man.”
The ACLU has argued since October 2017 that the government should either charge or release the man. Negotiations for releasing him began after the ACLU filed an emergency request in June to block the government’s plan to release him in war-torn Syria.
“My case has shown the worst and the best of my country,” the man said in a statement issued by his lawyers and published by the Washington Post.
“When I fled violence in Syria, I never imagined that my country would deny me access to a lawyer for nearly four months and imprison me without charge in solitary confinement for over a year,” he said.
“No one, no matter what they are suspected of, should be treated the way my government treated me. Once I got the chance to stand up for my rights, the Constitution and the courts protected me.”