Government Preparing Federal Charges Against ACLU Client Ali Al-Marri, Only "Enemy Combatant" Held On U.S. Soil

February 26, 2009 12:00 am

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Supreme Court Should Reject Abuse Of Executive Power In Al-Marri’s Case, Says ACLU

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NEW YORK – According to news reports today, federal prosecutors are preparing criminal terrorism charges against Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, the only individual to be designated an “enemy combatant” by the Bush administration being held in military detention on U.S. soil. The American Civil Liberties Union represents al-Marri in his case before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging his illegal designation as an “enemy combatant.” A criminal indictment would not automatically resolve the issues that are pending before the Supreme Court.

The following can be attributed to Jonathan Hafetz, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project and lead counsel in al-Marri’s case before the Supreme Court:

“If true, the decision to charge al-Marri is an important step in restoring the rule of law and is what should have happened seven years ago when he was first arrested. But it is vital that the Supreme Court case go forward because it must be made clear once and for all that indefinite military detention of persons arrested in the U.S. is illegal and that this will never happen again.”

Al-Marri, a legal U.S. resident and Qatari national, has been detained in solitary confinement at a Navy brig in South Carolina since June 2003. He was first arrested in December 2001 at his home in Peoria, Illinois, where he was living with his wife and children. His case was scheduled to go to trial in July 2003 on charges of credit card fraud and making false statements to the FBI, but the case was halted on the eve of trial when President Bush took the extraordinary step of designating him an “enemy combatant” and transferring him to a South Carolina military brig. At the brig, al-Marri was detained incommunicado for 16 months and subjected to torture and other abuse.

The ACLU’s Supreme Court brief is available online at:

More information about Al-Marri v. Spagone, including legal documents, is available online at:

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