US military judge rules detainees not entitled to Internet access for trial defense

[JURIST] The US Department of Defense (DOD) released a ruling [text, PDF] Sunday indicating that Guantanamo detainees who represent themselves at trial are not entitled to Internet access and some computer hardware and software to aid in their defense. Military judge Col. Ralph Kohlmann [JURIST news archive] wrote that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and four other detainees charged [DOD materials] with planning the Sept. 11 attacks already had access to writing materials, laptops with word-processing and discovery software, and copies of some military commissions regulations, but also wrote that officials warned the detainees that self-representation could limit the materials available to them:

[T]he simple reality of the situation is that there are limits on what the Government must provide to the accused under an umbrella of reasonable access to materials for the preparation of the defense. Reasonable access does not equate to a right or an entitlement to be placed on the same footing as a technologically state of the art law office.
Kohlmann denied the detainees' requests for Internet access, PowerPoint, DVD writers, printers, and scanners, but held that the detainees had to have access to defense materials and enough computer power for at least 12 hours a day. Additionally, Kohlman granted the detainees access to the US Constitution, the Detainee Treatment Act, the Geneva Conventions [texts], and a legal dictionary. AP has more.

In April, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers [advocacy websites] announced plans to raise more than $8 million to provide private defense attorneys [press release; JURIST report] for high-profile detainees, claiming the US military had not provided adequate financing to defend the detainees with the military lawyers appointed to them. Among the detainees chosen by the ACLU and Criminal Defense Lawyers is Mohammed, who has claimed under oath that he planned the 9/11 attacks [JURIST report] and is responsible for 29 other terrorist attacks. In February, the US government announced plans to seek the death penalty [JURIST report] for Mohammed and five other Guantanamo detainees accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.