Wessler v. U.S. Coast Guard (Secret Detention)

About the Case

The Clinic represents investigative reporter Seth Wessler in a lawsuit asserting a constitutional right to contemporaneous information concerning all arrests. The Coast Guard routinely interdicts small vessels in international waters, arrests their occupants, and holds them incommunicado. Many of these individuals are eventually transported to the United States for criminal prosecution weeks or months later. Wessler’s reporting has highlighted the extent to which the Coast Guard’s use of this practice has grown, to the point where the Coast Guard has contemplated the possibility of creating a “floating Guantanamo” to house individuals arrested at sea.

The Clinic’s complaint, filed January 18, 2019, seeks to establish that secret arrests are not permitted — the names of the people arrested, the dates, and times of their arrest must be contemporaneously disclosed. The Government has since moved to dismiss the case.

Read Seth Wessler’s reporting on this issue here.