Secret Hearing Focuses on Hidden Microphones at Guantánamo Prison

Mr. Nashiri, 56, is accused of orchestrating Al Qaeda’s suicide bombing of the warship during a port visit to Aden, Yemen, in 2000. Seventeen sailors perished. He is one of two major cases in the military commissions, along with the attempt at prosecuting five detainees arraigned in 2012 for aiding the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Both cases are currently in pre-trial hearings.

It was Mr. Nashiri’s first court appearance since January 2020. The 39 men who are currently being held at the wartime jail were kept in isolation for most of the pandemic. They did not have access to lawyers or other prisoners. Also, they had very limited access to Army guards and other prisoners to help prevent the spread of the pandemic at the remote base housing about 6,000 people.

The progress of the war court continues to be hampered by a pandemic. On Wednesday, proceedings were cancelled after two prosecutors who participated in the case in a Crystal City courtroom annex, Va., had symptoms of the coronavirus. The remote courtroom was set up during the pandemic, and all but two of the witnesses were being called to testify from there to avoid the need to send unvaccinated witnesses to Guantánamo two weeks early for a mandatory quarantine.

Defense lawyers described a pattern that could have been used to spy on the communications between attorney and client. They called it government intrusion into their ethical duty, particularly when they are dealing with a death penalty case.

In December 2013, Mr. Nashiri informed his lawyers that the secret C.I.A. had placed the cell in which they had been meeting since 2008. prison where he had been in off-the book detention from 2003-04. Soon after that conversation, prosecutors responded to an 18-month-old request from Mr. Nashiri’s lawyers for information about the meeting compound. Camp Echo II (or as it was called) had been used to hide the location.

Lawyers had realized that a device that appeared to be a smoke detector in a Camp Echo room was actually a listening device. In open court, the military commanders who were brought by the prosecution testified that no one was listening in on conversations between detainees and lawyers.

Defense lawyers said that Mr. Nashiri was traumatized by the black site because of his torture during his 2002-06 C.I.A. detention. As a result, Mr. Nashiri was assigned to Camp Delta’s hidden microphone site.

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