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A federal judge in Idaho has ruled that former attorney general John D. Ashcroft can be held personally responsible for the wrongful detention of a U.S. citizen arrested as a "material witness" in a terrorism case.
U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge, in a ruling issued late Wednesday, dismissed claims by the Justice Department that Ashcroft and other officials should be granted immunity from claims by a former star college football player arrested at Dulles International Airport in 2003.
Attorneys for the plaintiff in the civil suit, Abdullah al-Kidd, said the decision raises the possibility that Ashcroft could be forced to testify or turn over records about the government's use of the material witness law, a cornerstone of its controversial legal strategy after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.