This case challenges the government’s unlawful indefinite detention of Adham Amin Hassoun. The government claims that Mr. Hassoun is a threat to national security, but has not produced any credible evidence to support such claims. Instead, the government has unlawfully asserted the power to simply hold him in administrative detention without due process—potentially for the rest of his life. Since March 1, 2019, the government has claimed the authority to detain Mr. Hassoun based on factual allegations contained in unsworn “letterhead memoranda” written by one federal agency, the FBI, to another, the Department of Homeland Security. The government claims that the courts lack the power to review this determination.

The government’s actions exceed its limited detention authority under federal statutes and violate the Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection. This habeas challenge seeks to vindicate his rights and secure his freedom.

During the proceedings before a New York federal court, it became clear that the government’s case against Mr. Hassoun consisted of statements of unidentified jailhouse informants laundered through multiple levels of hearsay and assembled into an ominous narrative. When given the opportunity to put on its evidence its court, the government refused, moving instead to cancel the evidentiary hearing.

The court agreed that Mr. Hassoun’s detention was unlawful and ordered him released. The government has appealed, and because of the federal statute that it has invoked to hold Mr. Hassoun, its appeal goes to the D.C. Circuit.

In July 2020, we joined with the ACLU National Security Project and Immigrants’ Rights Project and other co-counsel to defend the appeal and oppose the government’s attempt to keep Mr. Hassoun unlawfully detained.

On July 22, the parties informed the court that Mr. Hassoun was no longer in U.S. custody. We are not free to say more at this time.

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

University of Chicago Law School; Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center

Date filed

July 10, 2020


U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit