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High Court to Decide if Ashcroft Can Be Sued

Post-9/11 policy left Muslim American jailed without charge
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2010 2:33 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Supreme Court will step in to decide whether a Muslim American can sue John Ashcroft for a policy that led to his arrest in the wake of 9/11. The FBI arrested Kansas native Abdullah al-Kidd at Dulles International Airport in 2003, while he was preparing to board a flight for Saudi Arabia. In obtaining the warrant, the bureau told the court he had paid $5,000 for a one-way ticket, and was needed as a “material witness.” Director Robert Mueller later touted the arrest as a major terrorism bust, according to the AP, and al-Kidd was held for 14 months without ever being called to testify or charged.

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But the $5,000 ticket was a fabrication, al-Kidd’s lawyers say—he actually had a drastically cheaper round-trip ticket. They add that al-Kidd, a US citizen with a wife and kids here, had cooperated with authorities after 9/11, and had never been told not to leave the country. He’s since sued Ashcroft for championing the “material witness” policy that got him arrested. The Obama administration has argued on Ashcroft’s behalf that he shouldn’t be subject to "burdensome litigation and potential damages for the conduct of his subordinates." (Read more US Supreme Court stories.)

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