Deportation hearings for the co-founder of an Islamic charity that the government claims has funneled money to terrorists should remain closed, a prosecutor told a federal appeals court Tuesday.

Rabih Haddad, 41, has been detained since his Dec. 14 arrest on a visa violation. The same day, the Treasury Department froze the bank accounts of his Global Relief Foundation and agents raided its suburban Chicago office.

Opening the deportation hearings to the public and media "would assist terrorists in getting a blueprint of the government's strategy to fight the war on terrorism," Justice Department lawyer Gregory Katsas told the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

But lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union, several newspapers and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., urged the three-judge panel to uphold a lower court ruling that the hearings should be open.

"Government incompetence flourishes in secrecy," said Herschel Fink, a lawyer for the newspapers. "We take no position on whether Haddad should be deported. Our concern is getting information and giving it to the public."

The judges did not say when they would rule.

Haddad, who had been living in Ann Arbor, Mich., is seeking political asylum in the United States because he fears he will be persecuted if he returns to Lebanon.