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 Thursday, 15 August, 2002, 22:11 GMT 23:11 UK
Terror suspects' names to remain secret
Camp Xray inmates
The ruling does not affect Guantanamo Bay detainees
A US judge has ruled that the Justice Department does not have to immediately release the names of the 1,182 people arrested in connection with the 11 September terror attacks.

District Court judge Gladys Kessler suspended her earlier ruling to give government lawyers more time to appeal.

The suspension will remain in effect until an appeal court has ruled on the case - a process which could take months.

Assistant Attorney General Robert McCallum said the department was "pleased" with the decision.

He described the appeal as a continuation of Justice Department efforts to "prevent terrorists from developing a roadmap to our ongoing terrorism investigation...and to protect the privacy interests of those who were detained and chose not to identify themselves publicly as detainees."

'Publish names'

On 2 August, Judge Kessler gave the Justice 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."

Civil rights, human rights and civil liberties groups had welcomed the judge's original 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 have been arrested in connection with the 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
02 Aug 02 | Americas
01 Aug 02 | Americas
06 Dec 01 | Americas
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