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US Navy defense lawyer allowed access to restricted Guantanamo camp

[JURIST] Navy defense attorney Cmdr. Suzanne Lachelier was given rare access [Miami Herald report] on Wednesday to Camp Seven [Miami Herald backgrounder], a special Guantanamo camp for alleged al Qaeda members classified as "high-value detainees" at the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] military prison. Lachelier is a defense lawyer for Ramzi Binalshibh [BBC profile], who has been charged [text, PDF] with murder and war crimes for his alleged role in the 9/11 attacks [JURIST news archive]. She made the visit after convincing [JURIST report] US military judge Col. Ralph Kohlmann [JURIST news archive] that she needed to assess conditions in the camp to determine if they are worsening Binalshibh's mental illnesses, in order to argue whether he is competent to stand trial. Kohlmann, however denied requests that a defense psychologist also be allowed into the camp. Binalshibh, classified as an enemy combatant for his role in the attacks, faces the death penalty if convicted.

Prisoners in Camp Seven are isolated from other prisoners to prevent violence against those who have provided information to interrogators, and the exact location of the camp has been kept secret to prevent a terrorist attack. The existence of the camp was not known until last December when it was mentioned [New York Times report] in court papers [JURIST report] filed by lawyers for Majid Khan [GlobalSecurity profile], the first "high-value" Guantanamo Bay detainee to be allowed to meet privately with legal counsel.

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