Military judge halts 9/11 trial following accusations of FBI spying

Army Col. James Pohl [JURIST news archive], the military judge presiding over the trials of those accused of involvement with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, halted a hearing [trial transcript, PDF] on Monday following accusations that the FBI [official website] was spying on attorneys for one of the accused. Defense attorneys for admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) and Ramzi bin al-Shibh [JURIST news archives] filed an emergency motion with the court on Sunday alleging that two members of the FBI tried to turn one of the defense team security officers into a secret informant. James Harrington [official profile], the attorney for al-Shibh, would not name the security officer in question but stated that he would have had "unlimited access" [Guardian report] to his clients' files. Harrington argued that the FBI has created a potential conflict of interest and requested that the court conduct an independent investigation into the matter. The court will be meeting with defense attorneys about the matter and proceedings are set to resume on Tuesday.

Monday's news is the latest development in the controversial effort to try those responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks [JURIST backgrounder]. Last month, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, Sulaiman abu Ghaith, was found guilty [JURIST report] by a federal court in New York of conspiring to kill Americans in the attacks, making him the highest ranking al Qaeda figure to be tried on US soil. The court found him guilty despite a statement [JURIST report] by Mohammed claiming that Ghaith had nothing to do with the attacks. In December, Mohammed received an order [JURIST report] by Pohl in his case allowing his defense attorneys to photograph scars on his wrists and ankles in order to provide evidence that he was tortured during his imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder]. This came a month after Pohl issued an order [JURIST report] to the US government to submit reports on the conditions at Guantanamo and to remove restrictions on communications between detainees and their attorneys.

 

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