The United States has held a U.S. citizen, whose identity is unknown, without charge or trial since September 2017. The man was captured when an allied Syrian militia group captured him and then turned him over to American military forces.
In October 2017, the ACLU filed a petition on the man’s behalf, asking a federal judge to give its lawyers access to the detainee, and arguing that since there were no charges, the government had no legal basis for keeping him incarcerated.
The Trump administration has since moved to usurp a fight over whether there is legal basis for holding the man by trying to release him, which would render the issue moot.
Because FBI agents could not gather sufficient evidence to bring charges against him, U.S. officials first considered sending him to Saudi Arabia — since he also holds citizenship there, per a New York Times report.
The ACLU, however, argued that transferring the unknown detainee would rob him of his right to challenge the legality of his detention, since Saudi Arabia isn’t known for due process protections.
The judge sided with the ACLU, and an appeals court has since upheld the decision. The ACLU had a meeting scheduled for June 20th. But now officials have announced a plan to instead send “John Doe” to an undisclosed location… in Syria.
So, now, there is a hearing set for June 20th, but rather than arguing whether the U.S. government had lawfully detained John Doe, the argument will be about whether the U.S. can simply drop the man off in Syria.