SACRAMENTO — A federal judge in California refused Wednesday to allow the extradition to Iraq of a man accused of committing a killing for the Islamic State, saying cellphone evidence shows he was in Turkey at the time of the slaying.
The US Justice Department has tried since 2018 to return Omar Abdulsattar Ameen to Iraq under a treaty with that nation.
He fled to Turkey in 2012 and in June 2014 was granted status as a refugee in the United States on the grounds that he was a victim of terrorism.
But prosecutors said that he returned to Iraq that same month to kill a police officer in the town of Rawah after it fell to the Islamic State. Five months later, Ameen traveled to the United States to resettle as a refugee. He had been living in the Sacramento area.
US Magistrate Judge Edmund Brennan said Wednesday that Ameen’s cellphone records “appear decisive on the most salient point: Ameen was in Turkey, not Iraq, on the day of the murder.”
He rejected prosecutors’ request that he rule that Ameen was eligible for extradition. That would have forwarded the matter to the US State Department for a final decision.
There is no appeal from the ruling, and Brennan ordered Ameen released from custody barring any criminal or immigration charges in the United States.
The US attorney’s office in Sacramento did not immediately comment.