Judge says system of handling detainee's mail from attorneys must change

Story highlights

  • A hearing for a detainee at Guantanamo Bay focuses on legal communications
  • Defense lawyers complain that their mail to the detainee is not kept confidential
  • The judge says he plans to change the way the mail is handled
The U.S. military needs to change the way it handles the mail between a Guantanamo prisoner and his attorneys, a military judge said Wednesday.
After spending another half a day debating the process through which privileged mail is sent by defense attorneys to their client, Abd aI-Rahim Hussein Mohammed Abdu al Nashiri, the judge at a hearing for al-Nashiri said it'll be two weeks before he makes a ruling -- but he also made clear he plans to change the way the mail is handled.
Al-Nashiri's attorneys object to the current system under which a group of experts examines mail from attorneys to al-Nashiri before he sees it. They claim that violates the attorney-client privilege.
Prosecutors say the experts, called a Privilege Review Team, do not read the mail, they simply make sure it contains no physical contraband and no obvious inappropriate content, like a map of Guantanamo Bay, where al-Nashiri is being held. They also make sure each page of the mail is properly marked as privileged mail so that when al Nashiri's cell is searched by guards during occasional security sweeps, the guards won't look at the lawyers' mail.
Col. James Pohl, the judge in the case, gave al-Nashiri's defense attorneys seven days to draw up what they consider a satisfactory solution. He'll then give prosecutors seven days to respond, after which he'll make a ruling. "There is going to be a new order in a couple of weeks," Pohl said.
Pohl is overseeing the two-day hearing to address 10 seperate motions connected to the case at Guantanamo Bay. A closed-circuit television feed of the hearing is being sent back to Fort Meade, where reporters are monitoring the developments.