Lawyers for five detainees accused of participating in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks say their clients are barred from speaking publicly about torture because their treatment during U.S. detention is classified.
The “gag order” from a tribunal judge, they claim, violates the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
Detainees want the right to file complaints against torture they say they underwent while being held in the U.S., before they were transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2006.
Tribunal Judge James Pohl has said that issues about the detainees treatment must be dealt with during closed-door sessions because they involve classified information.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, “was subjected to waterboarding for 183 sessions,” according to Jason Wright, the attorney for the Pakistani defendants.
Prosecutor Clay Trivett says the case isn’t about “torture,” it’s about “the summary execution of 2,976 people.”
Facing the death penalty, their attorneys believe the gag order is inappropriate.
“Mr. Mohammed has a right to complain to the U.S., to Pakistan and any complicit state,” argued Wright.
“You have the power to dismiss the death penalty or dismiss these charges because of the obstacles we face in this case,” said Walter Ruiz, the attorney for Mustafa al-Hawsawi, the Saudi organizer and financier of the attacks.
“Saudi Arabia wants to talk to him,” added Ruiz. “He’s their citizen and the US government won’t allow that to happen.”
"Everywhere I turn in investigating this issue, we hit a brick wall," said Cheryl Bormann, attorney for Walid bin Attash, a Yemeni accused of training some of the hijackers at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan.
"If the United States government wants to prevent these men from talking about the horrific things that happened to them, you can't have it both ways," Bormann said. "You can't gag somebody and then kill them."