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Trump Plans to Send a U.S. Citizen to an Undisclosed Third Country for Allegedly Fighting With ISIS in Syria, Lawyers Say

A U.S. citizen who has been detained by Iraq’s military without charge since September could be transferred to a third country—probably Saudi Arabia—unless a judge in Washington, D.C., issues a temporary restraining order, according to lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union.

On Monday evening, the Trump administration filed a notice that it would “relinquish custody” of John Doe within 72 hours. The name of the country where the U.S. citizen would be sent was redacted, but several analysts believe he will be sent to Riyadh because the individual is a dual U.S.-Saudi national.

Monday’s court filing, however, is heavily redacted. Now the ACLU is trying to halt the transfer of the U.S. citizen, while a hearing will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday.

“We are asking the court to stop the transfer. So we hope the court will decide that the government doesn’t have the authority to transfer John Doe, and that it would be an unconstitutional use of executive authority,” Anna Diakun, an attorney with the ACLU, told Newsweek.

“They could transfer him by Thursday night unless the court issues at least a temporary restraining order,” Diakun added.

The individual set to be transferred surrendered to Syrian Democratic Forces on the border between Turkey and Syria, and has been accused of being an enemy combatant with ISIS. The Syrian Democratic Forces transferred him to the custody of the U.S. military, and then the Defense Department had him transferred to a military facility in Iraq, according to court documents. The man denies that he was an enemy combatant.

Attorneys at the ACLU argue that the government has not demonstrated that it has a positive legal authority to transfer the citizen to a third country.

“The Trump administration has been detaining this American citizen unlawfully for more than seven months, and forcibly rendering him to another country would be an unconscionable violation of his constitutional rights,” ACLU attorney Jonathan Hafetz, who will argue in court on Thursday, said in a statement. “The government has no legal authority to detain this U.S. citizen in the first place, and it clearly lacks any legal authority to transfer him to the custody of another government. He should either be charged or freed, not handed over to an unnamed foreign government.”

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