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A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a lower court ruling that a deportation hearing must be open to the public for a man accused of running a charity that funneled money to terrorists. Rabih Haddad of Ann Arbor, Mich., has been detained since his Dec. 14 arrest on a visa violation. That same day, the Treasury Department froze the bank accounts of his Global Relief Foundation and agents raided its office in the Chicago suburb of Bridgeview. Federal officials sought a closed deportation hearing for Haddad on national security grounds, arguing that opening the session to the public and news media would help terrorists understand the government’s strategy. A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati was unanimous in rejecting the government’s appeal Monday. “A government operating in the shadow of secrecy stands in complete opposition to the society envisioned by the framers of our Constitution,” it said. The Bush administration has said it suspects Global Relief of having ties to terrorism. No criminal charges have been filed against Haddad or the foundation, and both have denied any involvement with terrorism. The government appeal had been opposed by lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union, several newspapers and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. Haddad’s trial was to have started today but was rescheduled for Oct. 7 before INS Judge Elizabeth A. Hacker in Detroit. “The court’s decision clearly affirms that the government must be kept in check by the people,” ACLU spokeswoman Wendy Wagenheim said. The Justice Department issued a written statement saying it disagreed with the court’s decision but had not decided whether to appeal to the Supreme Court. “The Justice Department has an obligation to exercise all available options to disrupt and prevent terrorism within the bounds of the constitution,” the statement said. Haddad has sought political asylum in the United States, saying he feared he would be persecuted if he returned to Lebanon. Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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