The U.S. government has refused to reveal whether an American journalist in rebel-held Syria is on a drone “kill list.”
Bilal Abdul Kareem says he has been targeted at least five times by U.S. drones in Syria due to his regular contact with members of militant groups operating inside Syria, including al-Qaeda-linked groups, as part of his reporting.
The New Yorker is one of the few Western journalists to operate on the ground in rebel-held Syria for the past few years.
Kareem court case, however, was dismissed last week after the Trump administration used the “state-secret” privilege in order not to confirm his placement on a U.S. drone kill list.
The court said it had no choice but to “dismiss” the action due to the U.S. government’s “invocation of the state secret privilege.”
Prosecutors had argued that disclosing whether Kareem was on the “kill list” would permit him to evade capture or further U.S. action against him and compromise intelligence sources on the ground.
Kareem’s attorneys slammed the ruling and maintained their client’s innocence.
“For the first time ever, a United States federal court ruled that the government may kill one of its citizens without providing him the information necessary to prove that he is being wrongly targeted and does not deserve to die,” attorney Tara J. Plochocki said.
“The U.S. Government could have provided this information but chose not to and the Court found that the Government’s assertion of national security trumps his right not to be killed.”
Responding to the ruling, Kareem told Middle East Eye that the court’s decision to dismiss his case as a “big blow.”
“I have no protection if they want to try [to kill me] again next week, next month or six months from now. Do you really trust the Trump administration to handle this responsibly?”
“My feeling right now is that if I myself as an American citizen can’t get the government to admit what we already know – that I am on a kill list – what about non-Americans?”