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Judge asked to unshackle Guantanamo prisoner

December 22, 2011
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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—The Guantanamo Bay prisoner accused of orchestrating the attacks on the USS Cole should be permitted to be unshackled when he attends legal meetings at the U.S. base in Cuba, his lawyers said in a legal motion released Thursday.

Lawyers for Saudi prisoner Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri filed a motion asking the judge in his upcoming war crimes tribunal to allow him to be unrestrained in meetings to prepare his defense. They said they had asked the detention center commander to allow the restraints to be removed but were denied.

The lawyers argue that al-Nashiri needs to be comfortable and able to move about as they spend long hours preparing his defense on war crimes charges. They also say it's unnecessary to restrain him when they are all locked together in his cell.

"In three years that counsel have been meeting with the accused he has never acted in any manner harmful to counsel or anyone else," they wrote in a motion signed by his two military and two civilian lawyers.

The motion was submitted Dec. 14 but was not released until now because it had to undergo a security review. The Pentagon released it with some redacted, apparent references to details of al-Nashiri's confinement.

The prisoner is one of the so-called "high value detainees" at Guantanamo and some of the details of his confinement are classified.

Prosecutors have not yet filed a response to the motion and the judge has not ruled on it.

The charges against al-Nashiri, 46, include murder in violation of the law of war in the 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, an attack killed 17 crew members. He is also accused of setting up the October 2002 bombing of the French supertanker MV Limburg, which killed one crewman, as well as a failed attack on another American warship, the USS The Sullivans in January 2000. He faces a potential death penalty if convicted.

Al-Nashiri was captured in 2002 in Dubai and held by the CIA in a series of secret prisons, where the government has said he was subjected to simulated drowning and other harsh interrogation techniques, before being sent to Guantanamo in September 2006.

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