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Court has jurisdiction over 'enemy combatant' case

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    NMU         NEW YORK         Secret Courts         Dec 4, 2002    

Court has jurisdiction over ‘enemy combatant’ case

  • The U.S. government’s claim that Jose Padilla can be held indefinitely without access to counsel will be challenged in federal court in New York City.

A federal court ruled Dec. 4 that it has jurisdiction to hear whether the U.S. government has the right to hold accused “enemy combatant” Jose Padilla indefinitely without access to counsel. The finding should mean that any subsequent hearing in the case will be presumptively open to the public, although that issue has not been directly addressed.

While no formal charges exist, the government continues to hold Padilla on accusations that he was working with al Qaeda to detonate a radioactive bomb in the United States.

Padilla is a U.S. citizen and was arrested on U.S. soil on May 8. He was held for one month in New York as a material witness in a federal terrorism investigation. After the Bush administration labeled him as an “enemy combatant,” the Department of Defense transferred him to a navy brig in Charleston, S.C. in June.

The government claims that as an “enemy combatant,” Padilla can be held indefinitely and has no right to legal representation.

Padilla’s attorney, Donna Newman, challenged the lawfulness of his detention in federal court in New York City. In response, the government argued that once a U.S. citizen is labeled as an “enemy combatant,” a court does not have jurisdiction over the case.

Judge Michael B. Mukasey disagreed.

“Secretary Rumsfeld is the proper respondent in this case, and this court has jurisdiction over him, as well as jurisdiction to hear this case, and the government’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, or to transfer to South Carolina is denied,” Mukasey wrote.

Mukasey also ruled that Padilla could meet with his attorneys in preparation for the case challenging his detention. However, in order to prevent interference with federal investigations, Mukasey emphasized that Padilla is not entitled to an attorney during government interrogations relating to the war on terrorism.

(Padilla v. Bush) ST

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