Court Says Government Must Restore Habeas for Alien Resident

A Federal Court in Virginia this week ruled that the government may not indefinitely hold legal residents of the United States without charges. The ruling came in the case of Ali al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar who lived in the United States before being arrested in 2001 and transferred to military detention in 2003.

“The court’s decision was welcome,” said People For the American Way Foundation Deputy General Counsel, Deborah Liu. “President Bush’s policy of indefinite detention is obviously unconstitutional and an affront to American values. This is not a country where civilians in the United States can simply be held for years at a time without access to a judicial review, no matter how serious the charges against them.

“This ruling was correct but limited, and by no means the last step in our fight to restore habeas corpus. We’re confident that the ruling will be upheld on appeal, and we will continue our efforts to preserve and protect the most basic Constitutional rights.”

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