Washington, DC (June 30, 2008) – The Defense Department announced today that it will seek the death penalty against Guantanamo prisoner Abd Al-Rahim Hussain Mohammed Al-Nashiri. Al-Nashiri is accused of planning and assisting in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen in October 2000. He has not yet been appointed a military defense lawyer.
Nancy Hollander and Theresa Duncan, attorneys with the John Adams Project, will be representing Mr. Al-Nashiri in the military commissions if charges are referred. The John Adams Project is a joint effort of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to provide expert teams of civilian capital defense lawyers to assist military defense counsel assigned to Guantánamo detainees in death penalty cases. Hollander was president of NACDL from 1992 to 1993.
“The government admitted to waterboarding Mr. Al-Nashiri and will be basing its prosecution on evidence obtained through torture,” Hollander said. “It will use this information in a military commission proceeding that provides none of the safeguards that protect from an unjust conviction. These procedures – and the torture committed by our government – clearly violate both U.S. law and the moral standards that are the foundation of our country.”
The government has said that al-Nashiri confessed to planning the bombing and the attempted bombing of another US Navy vessel. Al-Nashiri told a combatant status review panel last year that his confession was extracted by torture and is false.
The decision to go forward with the case now rests with the Military Commission Convening Authority, Susan J. Crawford.
Five other Guantanamo prisoners were arraigned on June 5 and also face the death penalty for alleged roles in the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. NACDL and the ACLU will continue to vigilantly monitor these proceedings to expose their fundamental deficiencies.
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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.