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Donald Trump is keeping a US citizen locked up in Iraq without charges

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Donald Trump‘s administration has detained an American citizen at a secret jail in Iraq for nearly two months, denying him access to a lawyer and refusing to release his name. 

The unidentified American, who has not been charged, surrendered to US-backed fighters around 12 September and allegedly fought with Isis militants in Syria.

He has been detained as an unlawful enemy combatant, although the American Civil Liberties Union argued the Pentagon has yet to present any evidence.

“An American citizen has been locked up for nearly two months and repeatedly asserted his constitutional right to a lawyer. But the Trump administration is doing all within its power to deny him that basic protection,” said Jonathan Hafetz, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU in New York. 

Donald Trump says ‘Im the only one who matters’

Last month, the ACLU filed a petition in the US District Court in Washington, DC, challenging the man’s detention and seeking to provide him legal counsel. 

In a response filed last week, US attorneys argued the ACLU is asking to represent and provide legal counsel to an individual it does not know, has never met and does not officially represent. 

The government said the ACLU’s “attempt to interject itself as the advocate for an individual who came into US military custody less than seven weeks ago, was identified as an enemy combatant and is currently detained in Iraq pending a determination of his further disposition is improper, unnecessary and should be dismissed.” 

The government said the International Committee of the Red Cross had visited the detainee. The Red Cross could contact his relatives, who could seek legal representation on his behalf, it added.

The ACLU countered by saying the Red Cross’ mission is not to obtain legal counsel for detainees it meets.

Mr Hafetz said there is no indication the detainee wants to or can contact relatives or whether they would be willing to risk reprisal by seeking a lawyer for him. 

The ACLU and other civil rights groups have claimed the detainee has been held too long without access to counsel.

But the government argued that the Supreme Court has recognised that in the case of military operations, the executive branch should be given a reasonable period of time to determine a detained individual’s status. 

The Defence Department “is still within that initial reasonable period” of time, the government attorneys wrote. 

Steven Dalbey, director for the Defence Department’s office of detainee policy, which receives and reviews all reports filed by the Red Cross, said the American surrendered to Syrian Democratic Forces on or around 12 September. Those US-backed forces turned him over to American forces which identified him as an enemy combatant and detained him in Iraq. 

“This location is within an armed conflict zone with restricted civilian access based on military operational concerns, security concerns and political sensitivities of the host nation,” Mr Dalbey said. 

“As a known security risk, there is no capability to provide this detainee with an unclassified system for a video-teleconference in a private setting to discuss legal matters.” 

He said the Red Cross was granted access to the detainee on 29 September and 23 October. The Red Cross has not commented on the individual’s identity, location or conditions of his detention. 

In a blog post about the ongoing case, the ACLU said: “By opposing the ACLU’s efforts in this case, the Trump administration is taking a very dangerous step: It is blocking an Americans citizen’s access to his own country’s courts. It is also undermining the bedrock guarantees of habeas corpus, which for centuries has served as the greatest check on unlawful government detentions.

“Now, we’re fighting to stop the government’s unconstitutional attempt to create a new rights-free zone.”

Additional reporting by AP

Independent

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Middle East

15 Civilians Killed, Injured in Turkish Strikes on Afrin: Official

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ERBIL — At least two civilians were killed and 13 others were wounded on Sunday as a result of the Turkish military assault on Afrin, northwest of Syria, a local official said.

Osama Sheikh Issa, co-chair of Afrin local administration told Kurdistan24 that what Turkey is trying to achieve is having revenge on the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection (YPG) and Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) fighter’s victory against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

“All of the casualties of the Turkish attacks were civil people who had nothing to do with the war” he pointed out.

Issa also asserted that the residents of Afrin are confidently staying in their city, but the displaced Syrian people who had found refuge in Afrin are in danger because of the Turkish assault on the city.

He further ensured that “none of the YPG and YPJ units have been targeted by the Turkish strikes, in deed all the attacks have been aimed at the homes of civilians in Afrin”.

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Middle East

Iran Calls on Turkey to Halt Afrin Operation

- 6cce60afe0e9652295227731138f696c L - Iran Calls on Turkey to Halt Afrin Operation


ERBIL — The Islamic Republic of Iran has called on Turkey to halt the Afrin operation and respect Syria’s territorial integrity, said a spokesperson for Iranian Foreign Ministry.

According to Mehr News Agency, Bahram Ghasemi said that Iran is closely and concernedly following the current developments in the city of Afrin.

“Iran hopes that the operation will immediately come to an end to stop the deepening of the crisis in the border areas of Turkey and Syria” he added. 

“The continuation of the crisis in Afrin may further strengthen the takfirist-terrorist groups in the northern Syrian regions, and flare up the fires of war ” warned the Iranian foreign ministry.

Qasemi also drew attention to the Astana peace talks and stated that all countries, especially Turkey, are expected to remain committed to the political solution, especially Astana peace process, for the Syrian crisis and continue observing their commitments and playing their constructive role in the resolution of the crisis.

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Middle East

[Watch]: YPG Destroys Turkish Tank near Afrin

- a515aef23f394e0974fa089da5993b99 L - [Watch]: YPG Destroys Turkish Tank near Afrin


ERBIL — The US-backed Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) released a footage on Sunday which shows them destroying a Turkish tank near the border city of Afrin.

The YPG fighters appear in the video destroying a Turkish tank with an anti-tank missile.

Turkey on Saturday launched a new air and ground operation on Afrin, a Kurdish city in the northwest of Syria, dubbed as the “Olive Branch Operation”.

The assault has so far left dozens killed and injured, including civilians and fighters from the both sides.

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