Confidential legal correspondence was improperly taken from the cells of accused plotters of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, lawyers for the defendants said, in the second dispute this week over how the U.S. government is monitoring the defendants.
"The guard force was in fact seizing privileged communications" while the defendants were in a military courtroom two days ago, Cheryl Bormann, an attorney for Walid bin Attash, a Yemeni accused of helping recruit and train the attackers, said Thursday in a hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Bin Attash stood up in court Thursday and tried to complain to the judge in Arabic before he was ordered to sit down.
The military judge, Army Colonel James Pohl, said he will hear testimony about the incident soon. With prosecutors seeking the death penalty in the case, hearings so far have been consumed by debate over the defendants' rights, such as whether the government is eavesdropping on conversations between the defendants and their lawyers.
The chief prosecutor, Army Brigadier General Mark Martins, said officials are trying to determine what happened with jail-cell documents. "Inspections do occur in the cells," he said. "Sometimes these things are misunderstandings."
David Nevin, an attorney for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the attacks, said the seized papers had been cleared and stamped by guards as approved for use by the defendants. "It goes to our ability to represent these men," Nevin said.