2021-09-24 00:57:44 Secret Hearing Focuses on Hidden Microphones at Guantánamo Prison

Secret Hearing Focuses on Hidden Microphones at Guantánamo Prison

Mr. Nashiri, 56, is accused of orchestrating Al Qaeda’s suicide bombing of the warship during a port visit to Aden, Yemen, in 2000. Seventeen sailors perished. His is one of two capital cases in the military commissions system, the other being an attempt to prosecute five detainees who were arraigned in 2012 on charges of aiding the Sept. 11 attacks. Both cases have been held up in pretrial hearings.

It was Mr. Nashiri’s first court appearance since January 2020. The 39 men currently held at the wartime prison spent much of the first year or more of the pandemic in isolation, with no visits from their lawyers and limited access to other prisoners and Army guards to prevent an outbreak at the remote base of about 6,000 residents.

The pandemic continues to stymie progress at the war court. The proceedings were canceled on Wednesday after two prosecutors who had been participating in the case from a courtroom annex in Crystal City, Va., became ill with the coronavirus. The remote courtroom was set up during the pandemic, and all but two of the witnesses were called to testify from there to avoid having to send unvaccinated witnesses to Guantánamo two weeks early for a mandatory quarantine.

Defense attorneys have described a pattern of suspected eavesdropping on confidential attorney-client communications, calling it a government intrusion into their ethical duty to protect their work, particularly in a death penalty case.

Mr. Nashiri told his lawyers in December 2013 that the cell where they had been meeting since 2008 was part of a secret C.I.A. prison, where he had been held in off-the-books detention in 2003-04. Soon after that conversation, prosecutors responded to an 18-month-old request from Mr. Nashiri’s lawyers for information about the meeting compound. Camp Echo II, as it was known, had been used as a black site.

By then, lawyers had discovered that a device that looked like a smoke detector in a Camp Echo meeting room was actually a listening device. Prosecutors called military commanders to testify in open court that no one was listening in on conversations between detainees and their lawyers.

The use of the black site, according to defense attorneys, re-traumatized Mr. Nashiri because he was tortured during his detention by the C.I.A. from 2002 to 2006. In response, Mr. Nashiri and his lawyers were assigned to a different meeting location at Camp Delta, one with two hidden microphones.

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Secret Hearing Focuses on Hidden Microphones at Guantánamo Prison