Government Rushes Guantánamo Cases While Delaying Detainees' Access To Prospective Counsel

May 14, 2008 12:00 am

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Military Judge Sets June 5 Date For Arraignments

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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union expressed outrage today at the Pentagon’s announcement of a June 5 date for the arraignment of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other detainees accused of crimes related to September 11 before all of the defendants have met with their prospective lawyers.

According to the Military Commissions Act, defendants must go before the military commission within 30 days of the formal filing of charges. The Pentagon just announced charges against the five detainees yesterday.

As part of the ACLU’s John Adams Project formed in partnership with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to provide counsel to Guantánamo detainees, civilian attorneys David Nevin and Scott McKay have offered to represent Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. However, the government is delaying approval of their security clearances, preventing them from meeting with Mohammed. In addition, not all of the detainees scheduled for arraignment have met with military defense counsel.

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU:

“It is extremely disturbing — though not surprising — that the government is brazenly disregarding the rights of the accused without any consideration for due process. This approach will only add to the illegitimacy of the military commissions, which are inherently unfair, fundamentally flawed and make a mockery of our Constitution and American values. Moreover, the government’s failure to provide the necessary clearances to lawyers seeking to represent the Guantánamo detainees prior to arraignment is, predictably enough, another example of its attempt to subvert justice and tip the scales in its favor.”

For more information on the ACLU’s John Adams Project, go to:

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