Lawyers for five Guantanamo Bay prisoners who face charges stemming from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have accused the government of eavesdropping on private attorney-client conversations.
They are asking a judge on Monday to halt all legal proceedings in the trials until the eavesdropping issue is cleared, according to a report from the Associated Press.
The accusations stem from a Jan. 28 hearing when the sound system in the Gitmo courtroom was cut, to the surprise of lawyers, prisoners and even the judge, the AP said. The judge subsequently said that a government official was tracking the court hearing from outside the room and purposely cut the sound to stop the release of potentially classified information, the AP said.
Defense attorneys are now alarmed, however, and want the government’s wiretapping and eavesdropping activities fully vetted before the trial proceeds.
“What happened in the courtroom [on Jan. 28] was shocking,” said Army Capt. Jason Wright, a lawyer for one of the defendants, in the AP report. “There was a wizard behind the curtain who had the power to completely cut off the audio feed to the proceedings, to censor what was being said in court. It would be foolish for us to not consider that capability in other areas where we interact with the accused.”