An American citizen held in military custody in Iraq for 11 weeks refused to talk to FBI interrogators without a lawyer after he was warned of his Miranda rights to remain silent and have a lawyer present, the Justice Department told a federal judge on Thursday, the New York Times reports. The filing responded to an order by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington, D.C., after a contentious hearing earlier during which she warned that the Trump administration seemed to be claiming “unchecked power that is, quite frankly, frightening.”
The case involves an American who was captured by a Syrian militia in mid-September, apparently fighting for the Islamic State, and turned over to American military forces. Although the International Committee for the Red Cross has visited the detainee twice, the government has kept secret basic facts about him, including his name. An administration official told the Times that the detainee was born in the U.S. to foreign parents and raised in an unidentified Middle Eastern country. The official also said that after being interrogated for intelligence purposes, the detainee was read the Miranda warning and had not talked since then. Chutkan said that she did not want to rely on news reports and wanted the government to disclose such information. The detainee has raised a dilemma because national security officials believe the man was an Islamic State fighter and do not want to release him, but they lack sufficient evidence to charge him with a terrorism-related crime, officials said. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a habeas corpus suit on behalf of the man. The ACLU asked Chutkan to give its lawyers access to the detainee and to declare that his continued indefinite detention without charges unlawful.