WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The ethnic Chechen college student suspected in the deadly Boston Marathon bombings will not be treated as an enemy combatant in the legal proceedings, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Monday.
Some Republican lawmakers had called on the Obama administration to designate Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant, a designation that would allow him fewer rights such as the appointment of counsel.
The White House rejected those appeals. Carney said Tsarnaev would be handled through the usual civilian criminal court process, particularly since he is naturalized American citizen and as such by law cannot be tried in a U.S. military commission.
"He will not be treated as an enemy combatant," Carney told reporters at a briefing. "We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice. Under U.S. law, United States citizens cannot be tried in military commissions."
The "enemy combatant" status designated for suspects arose in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks and some of these have been detained at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Carney said the decision was made by Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department and that the "whole national security team supports this decision."
"And let's be clear: There is not an alternative for a U.S. citizen to be tried to a military commission by law," he said.
(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal and Steve Holland; Editing by Christopher Wilson and Bill Trott)