9/11 suspect defies judge over Guantanamo cell search
One of the alleged September 11 plotters protested angrily and defied a judge Thursday over what he said was the search of his cell at Guantanamo Bay and seizure of confidential material.
The incident came on the last day of a round of preliminary hearings for five suspects who face the death penalty if convicted over the suicide airliner attacks against the Twin Towers and the Pentagon in 2001. Nearly 3,000 people died. A trial is not expected within a year at the earliest.
The hearings at the US naval base and prison in Cuba for terror suspects are being broadcast by video link to a military base outside Washington.
Lawyers for the suspects said the cells of three of them were "ransacked" and that correspondence between the defendants and them was taken.
Yemeni suspect Walid bin Attash stood up Thursday and said to Judge James Pohl that he had forced him to come to court. The suspects had been boycotting some of the sessions, but they were present Thursday.
Pohl immediately cut Attash off and told him to be quiet.
But the accused man remained standing for 10 minutes. He eventually sat down again on the advice of his lawyer, as the judge was threatening to expel him.
That lawyer, Cheryl Bormann, said her client now fears that every time he comes to court his legal materials are going to be seized.
She said the judge should "resolve the issue today" or stop forcing Attash to come to court. She described him as "very upset. You can see he is standing."
Bormann said the cells of three defendants had been searched Tuesday while they were at that day's hearing. She called for an investigation, saying "it affects our ability to work."
David Nevin, attorney for self-declared 9/11 mastermind Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, said materials that had been stamped were taken by guards anyway.
The third defendant involved is Yemeni Ramzi bin al Shibh, whose lawyer Jim Harrington denounced what he called an intrusion into material protected under the principle of attorney-client privilege.
Chief Prosecutor Brigadier General Mark Martins said promised a probe of the allegations of material being seized from cells at Guantanamo. Despite the lawyers' protests, the judge ordered that the hearings continue.