Monday, September 25, 2006

MILITARY ATTEMPTS TO BLAME LAWYER FOR GITMO SUICIDES

Monday September 25, 2006 11:46 PM


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - An attorney who represents several Guantanamo Bay detainees said the U.S. military is attempting to falsely link him to the suicides of three prisoners at the base to deflect blame for its own actions.

A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment Monday on attorney Clive Stafford Smith's accusation. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has seized some 1,100 pounds of documents, some of which are protected by lawyer-client privilege, in its probe of the June suicides by three detainees, the first to rock the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

``As a matter of routine practice, we do not discuss ongoing NCIS investigations,'' said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Chito Peppler.

In an e-mail to The Associated Press, Stafford Smith said he learned that interrogators have been questioning his client Mohammed el Gharani on a weekly basis, attempting to lay blame for the suicides at the lawyer's feet.

``His interrogators have repeatedly questioned him about my purported role in the suicides,'' Stafford told the AP.

``The interrogator said I told my clients to kill themselves, and word was passed to the three men who did commit suicide,'' Stafford Smith added.

The suicides stoked condemnation of the detention center, where alleged al-Qaida and Taliban members are held. Lawyers said the suicides were an act of desperation.

SOURCE: Guardian Unlimited

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