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Judge Rules U.S. Must Allow ACLU Access To American Held In Iraq

"John Doe" has been held without charges and without counsel for over three months.

Good news, the government can’t deny legal counsel to an American citizen who’s being imprisoned indefinitely on no charges.

A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. must allow the American Civil Liberties Union access to an American citizen being held in U.S. military custody in Iraq, according to the AP.

An unidentified American suspected of fighting for the so-called Islamic State has been in U.S. custody for three months. But authorities have never charged the detainee and have denied the individual access to legal counsel. The military admitted back in November that the man did request a lawyer.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan says the ACLU must be given “immediate and unmonitored access” to John Doe so that he has the opportunity to obtain legal counsel if he still wishes. 

ACLU attorney Jonathan Hafetz says this ruling helps ensure that American citizens won’t be subjected to the Trump administration’s “executive imprisonment.”

The man surrendered to a Syrian rebel group and was turned over to U.S. authorities in mid-September.

Though viewed as a step in the right direction, some law experts say the time it took to reach this ruling raises concerns.

“It took exactly 100 days to get this far,” University of Texas School of Law professor Steve Vladeck tweeted Sunday morning. “That’s a terrifying precedent for how long government can evade review.”

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