Tuesday Jan 29, 201310:28 AM GMT
'Invisible hand' in US cuts off media feed of Gitmo trials, baffling judge
A sketch of an October 2012 pretrial hearing of five Guantanamo inmates by a courtroom artist
A sketch of an October 2012 pretrial hearing of five Guantanamo inmates by a courtroom artist
Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:27AM
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During defense arguments in an “open” session of the US military trial of Guantanamo inmates, an ‘invisible hand’ suddenly cut off the audio-visual feed to the media, even mystifying the military judge.


The apparent bid by behind-the-scenes US officials to censor part of a preliminary hearing at the notorious prison-torture camp occurred on Monday while defense attorney for accused mastermind of the September 2001 terror incidents in the US, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, was arguing about a motion to keep any evidence from the secret foreign prisons where the defendants were held captive and tortured by CIA officers.

Although the motion had already been declassified, as David Nevin, one of Mohammed’s civilian attorneys, began discussing it, the audio feed to the media centers on the Guantanamo military prison and at Fort Meade military intelligence base near Washington DC “was smothered in white noise,” The New York Times reported Tuesday. “Then the video of the courtroom was cut.”

According to the report, when the feeds were restored moments later, the presiding judge, Army Colonel James Pohl, appeared baffled “as to not only why Nevin was censored but by whom.”

Pohl insisted that he did not cut off the feed, “and it did not appear that the court security officer who sits beside him did, either,” the daily added.

The report further cites the defense attorneys as wondering if there was “some mysterious entity” monitoring the military court’s proceedings, “and whether that entity might be listening to communications between the lawyers and their clients.”

This is while Joanna Baltes, a US Justice Department lawyer who on the prosecution team in the case, is cited in the report as offering to explain what happened, “but not in public.”

Meanwhile, defense attorneys have maintained that the five men currently on trial were subjected to torture during interrogations by American CIA agents.

Moreover, lawyers for one of the Guantanamo inmates that was held in a CIA-run detention center in Poland have sought the assistance of the European Court of Human Rights for his trial amid reports that a criminal probe in Poland into alleged CIA detention and torture facilities on its soil and elsewhere in Europe has stalled reportedly due to political pressures by American officials.

There are 166 inmates still held captive at Guantanamo military detention and torture camp, but Obama’s pledge over four years ago to shut down the infamous facility has been indefinitely postponed amid fierce resistance mostly by hard line Republican lawmakers in the US Congress.

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