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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

US to release American captured in Syria in September

The man was captured by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces

US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces fighters prepare to fire a mortar shell, at one of the front lines, in Raqqa, northeast Syria. Hussein Malla / AFP
US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces fighters prepare to fire a mortar shell, at one of the front lines, in Raqqa, northeast Syria. Hussein Malla / AFP

The US government said on Wednesday it would release in Syria an American citizen detained on suspicion of being an ISIS member, a move the American Civil Liberties Union compared to dumping him on the road in a war zone.

The man, who holds dual US-Saudi citizenship and whose name has not been released, was captured in September in Syria by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of militias fighting against ISIS, before being handed over to the United States.

He was then held in Iraq without legal representation until the ACLU intervened on his behalf in US federal court last October.

"The government has effectively admitted that it has no reason to continue detaining our client and that he does not pose a threat," said ACLU lawyer Jonathan Hafetz.

"But, instead of offering a safe release, they want to dump an American citizen onto the side of the road in a war-torn country without any assurances of protection and no identification."

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Read more

American 'ISIS fighter' cannot be sent to third country, court rules

Detainee says he was kidnapped and imprisoned by ISIS

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The US claimed it had evidence that the man had signed up as an ISIS foreign fighter in 2014 and entered Syria in January 2015, according to court papers. The detainee, who has a degree in electrical engineering, is married with one child.

The administration had sought to transfer the man to an unidentified country.

In its notice filed to a Washington DC court on Wednesday, the Justice Department said it offered the man a choice of being released "either in a town or outside an Internally Displaced Person camp", but he would not agree to release options.

The Justice Department said it would release him in the unspecified town "no sooner than 72 hours hence".