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Supreme Court accepts 9/11 detainee case

  • Story Highlights
  • Court to hear oral arguments in the fall in case against top government officials
  • Pakistani man detained after 9/11 attacks is suing over alleged mistreatment
  • He was never charged with terrorism; was convicted of fraud and deported
  • Former Attorney General John Ashcroft is among those being sued
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From Bill Mears
CNN Supreme Court Producer
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether top government officials can be held personally liable for allegedly knowing of or condoning mistreatment of people detained after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft, in a photo from March, is among those being sued.

Oral arguments will be held in the fall.

The decision comes just days after the justices ruled accused terrorists and foreign fighters held overseas by the U.S. military can contest their detentions in civilian courts.

The current appeal deals with Javaid Iqbal, a 40-year-old Pakistani man, who was arrested in New York two months after the 9/11 attacks. He was never charged with any terrorism offenses, although he was convicted of fraud for having false papers and eventually deported.

He later filed a series of lawsuits against top Bush officials, alleging he was beaten by guards during his yearlong detention and that officials personally condoned isolating Muslim and Arab immigrants in a Brooklyn prison wing.

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft and current FBI Director Robert Mueller were among those personally sued. They have denied holding and segregating anyone after the terror attacks because of their religious beliefs or ethnicity.

Iqbal's suit was rejected by the federal District Court in New York, but a federal appeals court ruled the lawsuit could continue.

Ashcroft and Mueller appealed that decision, saying their shouldn't be held liable for alleged actions by their subordinates. If the Supreme Court eventually rules that the case can go ahead, it would likely be sent back to the original court for a decision.

The case is Ashcroft v. Iqbal (07-1015).

In an unrelated case, the court rejected an appeal Monday from dozens of Illinois parents who say state officials threatened to take their children away based often only on anonymous tips of abuse or neglect. The justices declined to review the case without explanation.

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