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Friday, 9 August, 2002, 23:36 GMT 00:36 UK
Appeal lodged on US terror suspects
Ground Zero rubble
The terrorist attacks killed more than 3,000 people
The US Department of Justice has appealed against a court ruling ordering it to reveal the names of those arrested and detained as part of investigations into the 11 September terrorist attacks.

The department asked the District Court judge who made the order, Gladys Kessler, to halt its implementation pending the appeal.

On 2 August, Judge Kessler gave the department 15 days to publish the names.

The department said if there were no stay in the order it would ''cause severe harm to public safety by granting terrorist organisations the ability to map the government's investigation.

''This harm will be irreparable: once the information is in the public domain, nothing can be done to reverse the disclosure."

Constitutional duty

Civil rights, human rights and civil liberties groups had welcomed the judge's ruling, saying it challenged the government's policy of secret arrests under the Freedom of Information Act.

A US flag at half-mast during the 11 September attacks
Nearly 1,200 people had been detained over the 11 September attacks

Judge Kessler had allowed for only two exceptions - if the detainee was a material witness to a terror investigation or if the person being held did not want to be identified.

She said that while the court understood the government's first priority in a time of crisis was the security of its citizens, it was the obligation of the judicial branch to ensure the government was operating constitutionally.

But the judge did uphold the government's right to keep secret the locations where detainees were being held.

She said there was a significant risk that the prisons could be targeted by those angered by the detentions.

Barristers' concern

The Justice Department has detained nearly 1,200 people in relation to its 11 September investigation, according to officials.


It cannot be sufficient for a president to claim the executive (branch) can detain whomever it wants, for as long as it wants

American Bar Association panel

Most of them have since been deported, but the government disclosed in June that at least 147 people were still being held, including 74 on charges involving immigration infractions.

The ruling does not affect detainees at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who are beyond the jurisdiction of US courts.

Also on Friday, an American Bar Association panel urged the Bush administration to justify its jailing of American citizens as ''enemy combatants'' without charges or access to lawyers.

''It cannot be sufficient for a president to claim that the executive (branch) can detain whomever it wants, for as long as it wants,'' the panel said.


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03 Aug 02 | Americas
01 Aug 02 | Americas
06 Dec 01 | Americas
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