Washington (AFP) - The US Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to consider a lawsuit that accuses former senior government officials of abusive detentions of immigrants rounded up after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
At issue is the responsibility of former attorney general John Ashcroft, former FBI director Robert Mueller and other officials of the administration of then-president George W. Bush, who argue they are immune from prosecution.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks by Al-Qaeda operatives in New York, Washington and aboard a commercial airliner, US authorities questioned and detained more than 750 immigrants because they lacked the proper immigration documents.
The plaintiffs say they were targeted because they were Muslims or of Arab descent, and were held for no valid reason.
They recounted abusive detentions, including being held in isolation, deprived of sleep, and subject to insults and physical abuse by guards.
Two of the current eight Supreme Court judges have recused themselves, after apparently having worked on cases that could pose a conflict of interest.
The hearing is not yet scheduled but will come before the court's annual session ends in late June. The case could be heard by seven judges if the vacant spot on the nine-judge panel is filled.
If the hearing comes before January 20, when President Barack Obama finishes his second term, it would mean his Democratic administration would be defending the Republican Bush administration.