NORFOLK, Va. – The federal government must allow defense attorneys to meet with the second American-born prisoner captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, a judge ruled Monday.
U.S. District Magistrate Judge Tommy E. Miller also gave the government three more weeks to explain why it has held Yaser Esam Hamdi in the Norfolk Naval Station jail since April 5 without charging him.
Federal prosecutors had sought the extension. The judge agreed, but ordered the government to arrange for the defense to meet with Hamdi.
A Defense Department spokesman did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Monday.
Earlier this month, the federal public defender representing Hamdi filed court papers arguing that he is being held illegally and is being denied access to legal representation.
A presidential order authorizing indefinite detentions without due process of law for people suspected of belonging to Al Qaeda applies only to non-American citizens, the petition said.
Hamdi, 21, was captured with fighters of the former ruling Taliban militia and Usama bin Laden's terrorist group after a November prison uprising in Afghanistan. He was taken to the Navy base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, then transferred to the United States.
A copy of Hamdi's birth certificate shows he was born Sept. 26, 1980, in Baton Rouge, La., where his Saudi parents once worked. He went to Saudi Arabia with his parents while a child.
The other American found with Taliban fighters, John Walker Lindh, is in jail awaiting trial in Alexandria on conspiracy to murder Americans and other federal charges.