NEW YORK - August 16 - A federal lawsuit filed today in Washington, D.C., challenges the Executive Branch’s prolonged detention of an American citizen in Iraq without court review. The suit, entitled Munaf v. Harvey, was filed by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, with co-counsel Burke Pyle LLC and the MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University School of Law.
The suit challenges the Executive’s continuing effort to evade core constitutional protections of the separation of powers and due process that are central to the rule of law.
The suit was brought on behalf of American citizen Mohammed Munaf,, who has been imprisoned in Iraq since June 2005. Mr. Munaf traveled to Iraq in March 2005 at the request of three Romanian journalists to serve as their guide and translator. Mr. Munaf and the journalists were kidnapped by insurgents and held captive for fifty-five days. After their release, Mr. Munaf was kept in U.S. custody for more than a year without charge and without access to his attorneys. Mr. Munaf and his family members fear the United States will hand him over to Iraq without any court review.
“The Executive Branch does not have a blank check to imprison American citizens without due process or render them to foreign governments without judicial review,” says Jonathan Hafetz, an attorney at the Brennan Center, who is part of Munaf’s legal team.
The Brennan Center and co-counsel represent another American citizen detained in Iraq without charge. In that case, entitled Omar v. Harvey, a district judge issued an order in February barring the prisoner’s transfer to Iraqi custody because of the risk that he would be tortured. The judge maintained that the prisoner was entitled to challenge the lawfulness of his detention in federal court. The government has appealed that decision, and the case is now before the U.S. court of appeals in Washington, D.C.
The Liberty and National Security Project of the Brennan Center works to ensure accountability, transparency, and checks and balances in the formulation and implementation of national security policy. It is founded on the belief that these are vital for individual liberties and an effective and sustainable counter-terrorism strategy.