Federal Court Orders Military to Free Civilian
Ruling rebukes Bush administration, which plans to appeal
By Sophie Goldstein,  Newser User
Posted Jun 11, 2007 4:51 PM CDT
(FILE PHOTO) Al Qaida Suspect Transferred To DOD   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – The US may not keep a civilian believed to be an enemy combatant in military custody, a federal appeals court ruled today, finding that President Bush "cannot eliminate constitutional protections with the stroke of a pen." The administration quickly announced its intention to appeal the decision that Ali al-Marri must be charged in a civilian court or released.

The government contends that al-Marri, a Qatari national who was in the country legally when he was arrested in 2001, is an Al-Qaeda sleeper agent. The ruling, a sharp rebuff to Bush's expansion of executive authority, forbids military detention of civilians seized within US borders—a distinction that exempts the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, the New York Times reports.