Constitutional Law

Defense lawyers say they think US may be eavesdropping on client talks in Gitmo terror cases

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Prosecutors say the government is not electronically eavesdropping on conversations between defense lawyers and their clients in ongoing terrorism cases being heard in a military court in Guantanamo Bay.

But defense lawyers aren’t convinced that is true, and the issue is expected to dominate hearings this week at the U.S. naval base in Cuba concerning Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, reports Bloomberg.

The eavesdropping issue came to a head after an unknown entity outside the courtroom briefly cut off a live video feed during a Gitmo hearing last month.

In a brief made public over the weekend, prosecutors stated that “No entity of the United States government is listening, monitoring or recording communications between the five accused and their counsel at any location,” reports Bloomberg.

Prosecutors admitted in the brief that the military does have the ability to listen in lawyer-client meetings at Gitmo’s “Echo 2” facility, but said “security personnel have never activated the audio feature during defense visits.”

Attorney James Connell, who represents Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, a nephew of Mohammed, is one of the lawyers objecting to what he describes as a courtroom audio system so sensitive that it can pick up low-voiced conversations with clients. “There has to be a safe space for defendants and their attorneys to have a privileged conversation in the courtroom,” he said.

Related coverage: “A Gitmo mystery: Who cut the video feed for reporters?” “Is CIA listening to talk between lawyers and clients in Guantanamo death-penalty case?”

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