N.J. high court won't hear appeal on releasing detainees' names
By The Associated Press
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.
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