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N.J. high court won't hear appeal on releasing detainees' names

By The Associated Press

07.10.02

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NEWARK, N.J. — The New Jersey Supreme Court yesterday refused to consider an ACLU request to force the government to release the names of Muslims and Arabs being held in jail as part of the terrorism investigation.

The court did not comment in refusing to hear the appeal.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it might ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

Civil liberties advocates have been seeking names of detainees since the fall in an attempt to monitor their treatment in custody and ensure they have adequate legal representation.

The ACLU sued Passaic and Hudson counties in January, claiming the names of people arrested and held in New Jersey are public information under the state's right-to-know law.

Last month, a state appeals court ruled that the federal government could keep the names secret. The panel ruled that releasing the information could jeopardize the safety of the detainees and hurt criminal investigations.

Justice Department spokeswoman Barbara Comstock said by refusing to hear the case, the high court vindicated the department's efforts "to prevent, detect, disrupt and dismantle terrorism while preserving our constitutional liberties."

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the federal government has detained more than 1,100 non-citizens, mostly Arab or Muslim men.

According to the most recent Justice Department figures, 104 post-Sept. 11 detainees remain in custody, most of them in New Jersey jails.

Previous

N.J. appeals court: Detainee names can be kept secret
Three-judge panel rules that INS chief has broad powers to prevent information release.  06.12.02

Related

Federal judge hears arguments over releasing detainees' names
First Amendment advocates say government has expanded its own power without any congressional support and in conflict with FOI laws.  05.30.02

Former secretary of state criticizes secrecy surrounding detainees
'We must be very careful in this country of not holding people without revealing their names. It leads to the "disappeared,"' says Warren Christopher.  07.18.02

High court blocks open detention hearings for terrorism suspects
Justices grant Bush administration request for stay of federal judge's ruling that found it unconstitutional to impose blanket policy closing all such hearings.  06.28.02

Bush administration condemns order to release detainee names
Federal judge says Justice Department hasn't proven need for blanket policy of secrecy; gives government 15 days to provide names.  08.05.02

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