Secret hearing focuses on microphones hidden in Guantanamo prison

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Nashiri, 56, is accused of orchestrating Al Qaeda’s suicide bombing attack on the warship during a stopover in Aden, Yemen, in 2000. Seventeen sailors have died. This is one of two momentous cases in the military commission system, alongside the attempt to prosecute five detainees who were brought to justice in 2012 for assisting in the September 11 attacks. Both cases were blocked in the preliminary hearings.

This was Mr. Nashiri’s first court appearance since January 2020. The 39 men currently held at the prison of war have spent much of the first year or more of the pandemic in isolation, without a visit. their lawyers and with limited access to other prisoners and army guards. prevent an outbreak in the remote base of about 6,000 residents.

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The pandemic continues to hamper progress at the war tribunal. The proceedings were called off on Wednesday after two prosecutors who had participated in the case from a courtroom annex in Crystal City, Virginia, developed symptoms of the coronavirus. The remote courtroom was set up during the pandemic, and all but two witnesses were called to testify from there to avoid having to send unvaccinated witnesses to Guantanamo two weeks earlier for a quarantine mandatory.

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Defense lawyers have described a pattern of suspicious eavesdropping on confidential lawyer-client communications, and call it an intrusion by the government into their ethical duty to protect their work, especially in a death penalty case.

In December 2013, Mr. Nashiri told his lawyers that the cell they had been meeting in since 2008 was part of a secret CIA prison, where he was unofficially detained in 2003-04. Shortly after this conversation, prosecutors responded to an 18-month-old request from Mr. Nashiri’s lawyers for information about the venue of the meeting. Camp Echo II, as it was called, had been used as a black site.

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At that time, lawyers discovered that a device resembling a smoke detector in a Camp Echo meeting room was in fact a listening device. Prosecutors got military commanders to testify in open court that no one was listening to conversations between detainees and their lawyers.

Defense attorneys said the use of the black site itself further traumatized Mr. Nashiri because he was tortured while in CIA detention in 2002-06. In response, Mr. Nashiri and his lawyers were assigned to another meeting site, the one that had two hidden microphones, at Camp Delta.