Court: al-Qaeda Suspect Can Challenge Detention

Ruling finds president can legally order detention, but detainee free to challenge status
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2008 5:53 AM CDT
Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, former graduate student at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, is photographed in this booking photo at Peoria County Sheriff's Office May 20, 2003 in Illinois   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – The president has the right to order the detention of enemy combatants, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday—but detainees can challenge that status. The Virginia-based court was hearing the case of an al-Qaeda suspect who's been in a Navy brig for 5 years without trial, Reuters reports, making him the only foreign national currently detained on US soil as an enemy combatant.

A panel last year ruled that the military had no right to hold the Qatari man. His detention has now been deemed legal again, and the case will be transferred to a lower court to decide his status. "In these uncertain times, we must tread carefully when balancing our need for national security with our rights as individuals," the prevailing opinion said.