[News] US journalist demands to know: “Am I on the Kill List?”

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Nov 13 13:10:49 EST 2020

US journalist demands to know: “Am I on the Kill List?”

  *US journalist demands to know: “Am I on the Kill List?”*


An American journalist will challenge his apparent inclusion in the US’s 
classified ‘Kill List’ in federal court on Monday, 16 November 2020.

Bilal Abdul Kareem is a Peabody award-winning African American 
journalist who alleges that he has been targeted for assassination by 
the US because of his work covering the conflict in Syria. In 2016, he 
narrowly escaped being killed by five separate strikes, including an 
attack on his office and two strikes on cars in which he was travelling.

The case simply asks whether signals intelligence led the US to 
erroneously conclude that Mr Kareem should be added to the kill list, 
unaware that his meetings with various armed groups were for the purpose 
of conducting interviews.

The district court initially upheld Mr Kareem’s right to bring the case, 
holding due process was “not merely an old and dusty procedural 
obligation”, but instead “a living, breathing concept that protects US 
persons from over-reaching government action.”

When the government then claimed that the case required disclosure of 
privileged “state secrets”, the court felt constrained to dismiss the 
case. The appeal therefore presents a stark question: Can the US 
government issue secret death warrants for its own citizens in total 
secrecy, without any judicial review, even when that individual demands 
due process in a US court?

A three-judge panel will hear arguments in the case at 9:30am on Monday, 
20 November. The hearing can be monitored live via the DC Circuit webpage.

*Mr Bilal Abdul Kareem* said: “I have always believed part of being an 
American meant if you were accused of doing something, you would be 
given the opportunity to plead your case in court. But now, here I am, 
standing at the courthouse doors and the US government is trying to deny 
me that opportunity. In Syria, in one of the most violent wars the world 
has seen, I try to champion the American ideals of justice, transparency 
and accountability. I hope the Court will see fit to uphold those same 
rights – my rights – here at home.”

*Jennifer Gibson, Lead for Reprieve’s extrajudicial executions work and 
lawyer for Mr Kareem*, said: “The Trump Administration is asking the 
courts to jettison the right to due process, a value which sets America 
apart from dictatorships. The executive should not be allowed to act as 
judge, jury and executioner unchecked. In a country founded on the rule 
of law, Americans must have a right to challenge a secret death sentence.”

*Tara Plochocki, Partner at Lewis Baach Kaufman Middlemiss PLLC, 
representing Mr Kareem,* said:  “What the government seeks to do in this 
case represents a radical expansion of the concept of a ‘state secret’.  
The privilege has never been invoked to permit the government to bypass 
the Constitution in favor of summary execution, and we hope that the 
Court will not permit the government to do so here.

*Clive Stafford Smith, international lawyer for Mr Kareem,* said: “This 
case presents one of the most profound issues of human rights in our 
lifetime. Even George Orwell could not have imagined a lawyer from the 
‘Department of Justice’ standing up in court to say the US president may 
order the CIA to execute an American journalist in total secrecy, 
without any judicial oversight.”


*Notes to Editors:*

1. For more information, please contact Reprieve's Press Office: 
clemency dot wells at reprieve.org.uk or 07739188097.

2. The hearing can be listened to live here. 

3. Copies of the pleadings are available upon request.

/Copyright © 2020 Reprieve, All rights reserved./

/Reprieve is a charitable company limited by guarantee registered in 
England and Wales. Registered Charity No.1114900, Registered Company 
No.5777831. Registered Office 10 Queen Street Place, London, EC4R 1BE./

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