U.S. Court Orders Legal Access for U.S. Detainee

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Friday, January 5, 2018
Bruce Zagaris

On December 23, 2017, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia issued an opinion, ruling that a U.S. citizen detained as an “enemy combatant” has the right to a lawyer. On or about September 12, 2017, the U.S. and Saudi Arabian dual national surrendered to Syrian Democratic forces, after which he was transferred to the U.S. Armed Forces.  He has been held since, without charges or counsel, as an enemy combatant.   According to the Defense Department (DOD), he remains detained within an armed conflict zone with restricted civilian access.  Other than two visits from representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross – on September 29, 2017 and October 23, 2017 – the detainee has had no contact or communication with anyone except government personnel since his detention.