New Scandal Plagues Guantanamo Justice System

Friday, 12 Apr 2013 02:01 PM

By Melanie Batley

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Hundreds of thousands of defense emails were made available to the prosecution in Guantanamo Bay, compromising the credibility of the military’s justice system and halting the legal proceedings against a number of detainees accused of terrorist attacks, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

The revelation that defense emails had been on government computers by prosecutors prompted the chief judge at Guantanamo, Army Col. James Pohl, to order a two-month delay in pretrial proceedings against Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri, who is accused of coordinating the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. Trials of five defendants behind the September, 11 2001 terrorist attacks are also expected to be delayed.

“Is there any security for defense attorney information?” said James Connell, attorney for Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, one of the September 11 defendants, according to the Post. “This new disclosure is simply the latest in a series of revelations of courtroom monitoring, hidden surveillance devices and legal-bin searches.”

The discovery that some 540,000 emails may have been seen by the prosecution was made by IT specialists who noticed that confidential defense information on government computers was accessible to military prosecutors. The breach prompted Col. Karen Mayberry, chief military defense counsel, to order all attorneys for Guantanamo detainees to stop using Defense Department computer networks for privileged and confidential information, the Post reported.

The breach is the latest in a string of controversies that have plagued the military trials at Guantanamo. In February, it was discovered that microphones were hidden in meeting rooms being used by defense counsel and their clients. And in another case, large amounts of files and information held by the defense were lost when the Government upgraded its computer system.

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