Thursday, June 16, 2005

NYT: "Lawyer Says Military Tried to Coerce Detainee's Plea" (David Johnston and Neil A. Lewis)

A military defense lawyer told a Senate hearing on Wednesday that when military authorities first asked him to represent a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, he was instructed that he could negotiate only a guilty plea.
The lawyer, Lt. Cmdr. Charles D. Swift of the Navy, who represents a Yemeni, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, said that he regarded the effort, in December 2003, "as a clear attempt to coerce to Mr. Hamdan into pleading guilty."
Commander Swift testified that when he visited Mr. Hamdan, he discovered that the prisoner did not want to plead guilty, as the authorities had apparently believed from their earlier interrogation of him, conducted without a lawyer.
[. . .]
Commander Swift said, "I was deeply troubled that to ensure that Mr. Hamdan would plead guilty as planned, the chief prosecutor's request came with a critical condition that the defense counsel was for the limited purpose of 'negotiating a guilty plea' to an unspecified offense and that Mr. Hamdan's access to counsel was conditioned on his willingness to negotiate such a plea."

The above is from David Johnston and Neil A. Lewis' "Lawyer Says Military Tried to Coerce Detainee's Plea." The above is from the New York Times this morning and one of the two stories worth spotlighting.

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