US Court orders release of Tamil asylum seeker

[TamilNet, Saturday, 18 March 2006, 22:28 GMT]
US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco Friday ordered release of a Tamil Sri Lankan asylum seeker detained since October 2001 in San Diego on suspicion that he once belonged to the Liberation Tigers, an organization included in the US Terrorism List, Washington Post Saturday edition reported.

The decision by a three member panel to release Ahilan Nadarajah, 25, is among the first to challenge the Bush Administration's assertion that it may hold suspects indefinitely on terrorism charges while seeking to remove them from the US.

Judge Sidney R Thomas said: "The [US] Government does not possess the authority under the general detention statutes to hold Nadarajah or any other alien who is similarly situated indefinitely," according to Washingto Post.

Ahilan Arulanantham, a staff lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said that the court's decision might lead to the release of another asylum seeker on its client list who has been detained for years, the paper said.

Court documents said that Sri Lanka Army [SLA] soldiers swept into the Nadarajah's family home, "beat him, blind folded him and took him into their camp." Nadarajah was tortured but was released when his mother bribed an SLA soldier. He soon escaped to the US and arrested when he walked into US at the Mexico border, the Post said.

An immigration judge granted him asylum in 2003, saying the story was credible.

"The [US] Government got it completely wrong about my client. He is a torture victim and the government just ignored immigration court's decisions [in 2003] and kept him locked up. You can't just ignore that the immigration courts have found that he is not a threat to our country [US,] the Post quoted Arulanantham as saying.


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