The US justice department has defended President Donald Trump’s travel ban and urged an appeals court to reinstate it in the interests of national security. A 15-page brief argued it was a “lawful exercise of the president’s authority” and not a ban on Muslims. The executive order temporarily banned entry for all refugees and visitors from seven mainly Muslim countries. A hearing has been set for Tuesday on whether to allow or reject the ban. The filing was made to the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in response to the halting of Mr. Trump’s order on Friday by a federal judge in Washington State. The judge had ruled the ban was unconstitutional and harmful to the state’s interests. As a result, people from the seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – with valid visas were able to travel to the US again. The brief filed on Monday evening said the Washington court had “erred in entering an injunction barring enforcement of the order”. “But even if some relief were appropriate, the court’s sweeping nationwide injunction is vastly overbroad,” the department of justice added.