Saturday, February 04, 2006


WaPo: U.S. judge blocks rendition of American to Iraqi jail

Judge Stays Move Of Uncharged, Jailed U.S. Citizen

By Michael Powell, Washington Post Staff Writer -- Saturday, Page A10

A U.S. District Court judge temporarily blocked the federal government from transferring an American citizen to the custody of the Iraqi government, noting Friday that the move could place the prisoner at risk of torture and indefinite confinement.

American forces arrested Shawqi Omar, a naturalized U.S. citizen, on Oct. 29, 2004, at his apartment in Baghdad. Since then, he has been held at the U.S.-run Camp Bucca in southern Iraq and at Abu Ghraib and Camp Cropper in Baghdad.

The United States military has not charged Omar with a crime, nor has it let him talk with his U.S. lawyers, who now number about half a dozen. The attempt to transfer Omar to Iraqi custody came after defense attorneys filed legal papers on his behalf.

Judge UrbinaIn temporarily blocking Omar's transfer, U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo M. Urbina, right, acknowledged that the case is laden with constitutional questions.

"The court recognizes the tension created by the constitutional implications arising out of judicial versus executive branch authority on the matter," Urbina wrote. "The court directs counsel to address this issue head on."

A spokesman for the Justice Department said yesterday that its lawyers had not had a chance to offer counter-arguments. The government expects to file legal papers -- and its first acknowledgment that Omar has been in American custody for 15 months -- on Tuesday.

An Iraqi official told The Washington Post last month that Iraqi prisoners have been subjected to "severe torture" in Iraqi-run prisons. The commander of U.S.-run prisons in Iraq said last month that the military will not turn over detainees until they are satisfied that such abuse has stopped.

Omar, who was born in Kuwait and came to the United States with his family about 25 years ago, moved to Baghdad after the U.S.-led invasion in hopes of gaining reconstruction contracts, according to legal papers filed by his lawyers. U.S. troops detained Omar at his Baghdad apartment, where he had been living with his 10-year-old son.

Full Washington Post story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

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