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Case Basics
Docket No. 
Mohammad Munaf, et al.
Pete Geren, Secretary of the Army, et al.
Geren v. Omar, 07-394
(on behalf of Munaf, et al. and Omar, et al.)
(on behalf of Pete Geren, Secretary of the Army, et al.)
Facts of the Case 

In 2005, Mohammad Munaf was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping by U.S. military officers acting as part of a multinational force in Iraq. Munaf's sister petitioned on his behalf for habeas corpus in the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia. Soon after the petition was filed, Munaf was informed that he would be tried in an Iraqi court and transferred to Iraqi custody if convicted. Munaf filed a temporary restraining order attempting to block custody transfer.

After the Iraqi court sentenced him to death and the district court dismissed his case for lack of jurisdiction, Munaf appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit which granted an injunction against the transfer. However, the D.C. Circuit, like the district court, eventually concluded that it did not have jurisdiction over Munaf's claim, basing its decision largely on the Court's ruling in Hirota v. MacArthur 338 U.S. 197 (1948). That decision prohibited Japanese citizens held abroad by U.S. troops from filing habeas petitions to challenge sentences handed down by a military tribunal sitting in Japan but including U.S. military personnel. Petitioner urges the Court to set aside Hirota and its ruling and to base its reasoning on a string of cases reaching the opposite result. The case will be consolidated and heard along with another D.C. case, Geren v. Omar, 07-394, in which the D.C. Circuit allowed a habeas petition by a U.S. citizen held in Iraq because he had not yet been charged or convicted by an Iraqi court.


Do U.S. courts have jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus petitions brought on behalf of U.S. citizens detained overseas by American military authorities working as part of a multinational force?

Decision: 9 votes for Geren, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: 28 USC 2241-2255 (habeas corpus)

Yes they do. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, writing for a unanimous Court, held that the habeas corpus statute extends to American citizens held overseas by American forces operating subject to an American chain of command even if part of a larger multinational force. The Court pointed specifically to the statute's application to individuals held in custody "under color of the authority of the United States" to hold that actual Government custody is sufficient for jurisdiction in federal courts.

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MUNAF v. GEREN. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <>.
MUNAF v. GEREN, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 25, 2015).
"MUNAF v. GEREN," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015,