The Trump Administration Is Keeping a U.S. Citizen Secretly Locked Up Without Charges

For nearly two months, the U.S. military has been detaining an American citizen at a secret jail in Iraq, denying him access to a lawyer and even refusing to release his name. The Trump administration is calling the citizen an “enemy combatant,” claiming he was fighting for ISIS in Syria, but it has not presented any evidence to back up its allegations.We went to court asking a judge to protect the citizen’s constitutional rights, including the right not to be imprisoned without charge and the right to challenge his detention in court. The Trump administration has told the court that it doesn’t have to respect these essential due process rights.The Pentagon and Justice Department ignored our initial request for access to the U.S. citizen so we could advise him of his rights and offer him the opportunity of legal representation. We then filed a habeas corpus petition on the citizen’s behalf in federal court in Washington, demanding that the government justify its detention of the unnamed American. All U.S. citizens have the right to habeas corpus no matter where the government holds them or what it accuses them of. And, as we know from the government’s practices in places like Guantánamo, when it tries to undercut this right it opens the door to abuses, including the arbitrary detention of innocent people.We also asked the court to order the government to connect the citizen with ACLU attorneys because he is facing grave threats to his liberty and possibly his life. The government could continue imprisoning him without charge, force him to confess to crimes he may not have committed, or, as a Human Rights Watch expert warns, hand him over to Iraqi custody, in which he would likely be subjected him to torture, an unfair trial, and possible execution.The government’s response is straight out of “Catch-22.” It is arguing that the ACLU cannot seek relief on the citizen’s behalf because we have never met him and don’t know his wishes. But that is a conundrum of the government’s own creation because it has provided no other way for this citizen to legally defend himself.Instead, the government is piling one speculation on top of another. Maybe, the government suggests, the American could have conveyed his needs to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) when it visited him in custody, and maybe that organization could have contacted his family, and maybe his family could have found a lawyer to file a case on his behalf. In fact, the American citizen has made his wishes clear. U.S. officials told The Washington Post that the citizen has repeatedly demanded a lawyer. The government has effectively denied that request. And, as a former ICRC official explains in our latest court filing, there are multiple reasons why the U.S. citizen is unlikely to obtain counsel by going through the ICRC. To begin with, the ICRC’s main purpose is to monitor conditions of detention, not to find lawyers for prisoners. The citizen may not have family he can contact, or he might be afraid of contacting family for fear they will suffer retaliation. It is also possible the citizen’s family might not welcome contact from him, or, even if it did, the family may not know how to navigate the U.S. court system.The bottom line is that the imprisoned American citizen clearly wants a lawyer and doesn’t have one, thanks to the roadblocks the government itself has put in place.Learn More About The CaseThe government also complains that allowing counsel to have access to the citizen wouldn’t be “easy.” But constitutional rights do not depend on the government’s convenience. Federal courts have ruled that citizens have a right to an attorney even when detained as enemy combatants at secure military facilities, whether in the U.S. or abroad. And for more than 13 years, courts have ensured attorney access to non-citizens imprisoned at Guantanamo, rejecting government attempts to restrict it. Even George W. Bush’s attorney general and former federal district court judge, Michael Mukasey, ruled that the government’s national security interests cannot override an American citizen’s right to a lawyer.By opposing the ACLU’s efforts in this case, the Trump administration is taking a very dangerous step: It is blocking an Americans citizen’s access to his own country’s courts. It is also undermining the bedrock guarantees of habeas corpus, which for centuries has served as the greatest check on unlawful government detentions. Now, we’re fighting to stop the government’s unconstitutional attempt to create a new rights-free zone.

Source: The Trump Administration Is Keeping a U.S. Citizen Secretly Locked Up Without Charges

When political persecution hits close to home

+972 Magazine strongly condemns the silencing and political assault against Palestinian journalist Makbula Nassar by Israel’s most-read newspaper and a senior government minister.

By +972 Magazine

Palestinian journalist Makbula Nassar.

Palestinian journalist Makbula Nassar.

Israel Hayom, the free daily widely viewed as Prime Minister Netanyahu’s mouthpiece, reached new heights of McCarthyism when it targeted journalist Makbula Nassar, a blogger for Local Call and frequent +972 Magazine contributor, above the fold on its front page Wednesday. According to the newspaper, Nassar, who was recently appointed the National Road Safety Authority’s head of Arabic-language public relations, was accused of being an “active member of anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian organizations.”

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The “investigative report,” by journalist Daniel Soryoti, included looking through old posts on Nassar’s personal Facebook page, in which she expressed criticism of the state and the way it treats the Arab public in Israel. These posts were carefully handpicked and packaged under a sensationalized headline calling Nassar a “prominent activist against the state.” It didn’t take long for Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz to call for her to be fired.

The latest developments in highly publicized police interrogations of Netanyahu two closest confidants, part of several looming criminal corruption probes against the prime minister, however, only appeared on page five of the paper.

+972 Magazine condemns in the strongest possible terms the persecution of our friend and colleague, and we are proud that she is part of our community of writers. Nassar, one of the bravest and most renowned Palestinian journalists in Israel, was appointed to the job for her unrivaled professionalism. Despite the political silencing that has come to define this era, she has never once hidden her political opinions.

Israel Hayom labels Palestinian journalist a 'prominent activist against the state.'

Israel Hayom labels Palestinian journalist a ‘prominent activist against the state.’

Anyone who views political criticism as “activities against the state” makes no distinction between the state and the government, as is typical of oppressive regimes. One of journalism’s central roles in a democratic society is to support political pluralism, especially when the opinions expressed challenge those of the majority and the government. It is saddening and shameful that Israel Hayom is once again serving as the government’s attack dog, striking at all those who stray from its political vision.

While Minister Katz’s response is anything but surprising, the fact that a minister in the Israeli government is demanding the firing of a civil servant for her political opinions crosses a dangerous line and should serve as a warning sign.

We stand proudly behind Makbula Nassar.


Written and published in the name of +972 Magazine’s and Local Call’s staff and writers.

AFRICA/DR CONGO – The extension of Kabila’s mandate has the support of the United States

The San Silvestro’s agreement was mediated by Congolese Bishops. According to a statement by CENCO sent to Agenzia Fides, the Bishops asked Nikki Haley to “help the Congolese people complete the electoral process within a reasonable deadline and accepted by all parties involved; to obtain the effective observance of the Constitution and the full implementation of the agreement of 31 December 2016 from the politicians; to recommend the Electoral Commission the rapid publication of a realistic and accurate electoral calendar, which will allow for credible, transparent and peaceful elections; to ask the Head of State an explicit commitment not to present himself for the next elections; to obtain from the high authorities of the State, civil and military, the cessation of the repression of peaceful demonstrations and of serious violations of human rights, as well as respect of democratic principles; to encourage the government to continue to pursue the implementation of the political refor

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Kinshasa – Outgoing President Joseph Kabila has received some important international awards as the expiration of his mandate, as envisaged by the San Silvestro Agreement, signed on December 31, 2016, is due to expire. According to the agreements, Kabila was to step down by the end of 2017, the year in which the presidential elections were to be held which initially were scheduled in December 2016.
The new presidential elections will take place on December 23, 2018 as declared on November 5 by the Independent National Election Commission . The announcement of CENI in Kinshasa took place shortly after the visit of US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who had imposed an ultimatum on the authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo: elections by 2018, otherwise financial support to the DRC would be cut.
“By proposing the expiration of 2018, Nikki Haley offered the Congolese authorities what they were expecting: a second year of power to President Kabila, whose second and last presidential mandate ended on 19 December 2016”, says a note sent to Agenzia Fides by the Peace Network for Congo. “If the 31 December 2016 agreement had already officially confirmed a first postponement of the elections in December 2017, Nikki Haley approved their second postponement to 2018. The US ambassador seems to have satisfied a part, the presidential majority, ignoring the second part, the opposition, who has asked Joseph Kabila to resign”.
The San Silvestro’s agreement was mediated by Congolese Bishops. According to a statement by CENCO sent to Agenzia Fides, the Bishops asked Nikki Haley to “help the Congolese people complete the electoral process within a reasonable deadline and accepted by all parties involved; to obtain the effective observance of the Constitution and the full implementation of the agreement of 31 December 2016 from the politicians; to recommend the Electoral Commission the rapid publication of a realistic and accurate electoral calendar, which will allow for credible, transparent and peaceful elections; to ask the Head of State an explicit commitment not to present himself for the next elections; to obtain from the high authorities of the State, civil and military, the cessation of the repression of peaceful demonstrations and of serious violations of human rights, as well as respect of democratic principles; to encourage the government to continue to pursue the implementation of the political reforms envisaged in the December 31, 2016 agreement, as they are an essential prerequisite for launching a peaceful electoral process; to make every effort to ensure that the panel of experts nominated at the 72nd General Assembly of the United Nations has an operational power within the Electoral Commission”.
The extension, of more than two years, of Kabila’s presidential mandate has expired, creating strong tensions in the Country. Opposition and civil society have threatened to organize demonstrations to force the President to resign.