Enemy combatant's attorney wants day in court
From Bill Mears and Phil Hirschkorn
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Attorneys for a Qatari man being held in the United States by the military as an "enemy combatant" filed a new appeal Thursday, demanding a federal court hear his claims of unlawful detention.
The move came days after the Supreme Court ruled another enemy combatant had the right to go before U.S. courts to challenge his status and the allegations against him.
Ali Saleh al-Marri has been in a U.S. Navy brig in Charleston, South Carolina, for 14 months and has not been allowed to see his attorneys, they said.
The legal appeal was filed in U.S. District Court in Charleston.
Al-Marri is among three enemy combatants being held in the United States, all at the Charleston brig.
In their appeal, al-Marri's lawyers wrote, "Neither the Constitution nor the laws of the United States allow the president or the military to detain an individual seized within the United States, and not on an active field of battle, without access to counsel, simply by designating such individual an enemy combatant."
Attorneys Mark Berman and Lawrence Lustberg said their client is being held "without basis, without charge, without access to counsel, and without being afforded any process by which he might challenge his designation and detention."
The attorneys last week wrote a letter to U.S. officials to "request that the government immediately arrange for us to meet with our client."
Yaser Hamdi, one of the other two designated enemy combatants, on June 28 won a Supreme Court ruling saying he should be allowed to petition federal courts over his incarceration. Hamdi, a U.S. citizen, was captured on an Afghan battlefield in late 2001.
The government won a procedural victory in a separate appeal by lawyers for Jose Padilla, a Brooklyn-born man accused of plotting to detonate a crude radiological device in the United States. The Supreme Court said his lawyers filed their appeal in the wrong court.
Neither Padilla nor Hamdi have been charged with any crime. Held for months without access to attorneys, they have been allowed to meet with lawyers in recent weeks.
Al-Marri, 38, was arrested in late 2001 and later indicted on charges of conducting credit card fraud and making false statements to FBI agents in Illinois, where he was enrolled as a graduate student in computer science at Bradley University.
Two weeks before al-Marri's trial was to begin in June 2003, President Bush declared him an enemy combatant who "represents a continuing, present and grave danger to the national security of the United States."
Prosecutors never filed terror-related charges against al-Marri during his first 19 months in captivity but alleged in open court that he had ties to al Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for the September 11, 2001, attacks.
According to government sources, information from al Qaeda leaders in U.S. custody identified al-Marri as someone who helped the group's operatives entering the United States.
His lawyers deny the allegations and say al-Marri "is in fact a civilian, not a combatant."
They say that makes his detention by U.S. military authorities illegal.