Stalled Guantanamo 9/11 hearing goes into closed session

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 22, 2015 12:29 PM

By Lacey Johnson

FORT MEADE, Md. (Reuters) - A pre-trial hearing for five Sept. 11 suspects at Guantanamo Bay that has stalled over one inmate's self-representation convened briefly on Thursday before going into a closed session to discuss classified information.

Forty motions were scheduled for the two-week hearing. They include whether prisoners can refuse to be touched by female guards for religious reasons and how an interpreter from a secret Central Intelligence Agency "black site" was appointed as a courtroom translator.

The hearing was being held at the U.S. Naval Base in Gauntanamo Bay, Cuba, where the defendants are detained on allegations related to the 2011 attacks.

Proceedings in the death penalty case were derailed on Monday when Walid bin Attash, a Yemeni accused of running an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan, told his attorneys he no longer trusted them. He asked the military court how he might represent himself.

Judge Army Colonel James Pohl drafted an advisement to bin Attash regarding his rights to self-representation on Tuesday. Proceedings were canceled on Wednesday to allow time for the document to be translated into Arabic.

Defense attorneys said it would be difficult for any of the accused Sept. 11 plotters to defend themselves without access to legal resources and relevant classified materials.

Pre-trial hearings for the men had been delayed since last year, when defense lawyers learned the FBI was monitoring them. The results of an investigation were to be discussed during the hearings.

Almost 3,000 people were killed when hijackers slammed airliners into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001.

The hearing was scheduled to resume on Friday. It was monitored over closed-circuit television at a press room at Fort Meade, outside Washington.

(Editing by Ian Simpson)