MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An Iraqi man who is accused of hiding his past as a member of an elite Iraqi military force is asking a federal judge in Minnesota to release him after 16 months in immigration custody.
Attorneys for 34-year-old Farass Adnan Ali are challenging what they call his “unreasonable, prolonged” pre-deportation detention, which has included seven months of solitary confinement. But the Star Tribune reports that court documents show Ali’s immigration case also intersects with an FBI counterterrorism investigation.
Ali, of Rochester, has been held since his arrest in May 2017, after he allegedly lied to the FBI about his social media activity, which included use of Facebook and an app called Viber. An FBI agent wrote in court documents that Ali’s Viber contacts included a Fallujah native who is allegedly linked to an insurgent cell behind attacks on Iraqi and coalition forces. Ali’s Facebook account includes an image of Islamic State militants entering a Libyan city in 2015.
Ali hasn’t been publicly charged. His attorneys say the government hasn’t publicly invoked any national security statutes that would justify his prolonged detention.
Ali came to the U.S. in 2014 as a refugee from Turkey. He became a lawful permanent resident in July 2015.
The FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment to the Star Tribune about Ali’s case.
A federal immigration judge has refused to release Ali on bond, finding that he failed to show that he didn’t pose a danger. Ali’s attorneys say that unless a U.S. District Court judge intervenes, he could be held at least another year.
“This is somebody who’s never committed a crime in America, he entered as a refugee, he’s got a green card and the United States is holding him for no really good reason,” said Ian Bratlie, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union in Minnesota. “It’s kind of absurd and it’s harmful to people’s rights.”
According to court records, ICE officials allege that when completing immigration forms, Ali concealed his service in the Saddam Hussein regime’s elite Republican Guard and said that he had never been arrested in Iraq. But when he was seeking refugee status, he later claimed he’d once been arrested by Iraqi authorities who suspected his involvement in an explosion targeting police.
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