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Lawyers for ex-Guantanamo detainee argue for dismissal of charges due to trial delay

[JURIST] Lawyers for former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Ahmed Ghailani [GlobalSecurity profile; JURIST news archive] argued Monday that the charges against their client should be dismissed. Ghailani's lawyers argued before Judge Louis Kaplan of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) [official website] that he was denied the right to a speedy trial while being detained for nearly five years in Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] secret prisons and later at Guantanamo Bay. The prosecution countered that the delay was reasonable, as Ghailani was held as an intelligence asset, and his interrogation did not violate his constitutional right to a speedy trial. According to the defense's November motion [text, PDF; JURIST report], national security concerns should never "trump a defendant's Constitutional right to a Speedy Trial." The prosecution argued in its December response [text] that, "[t]he Government had unusual but highly compelling reasons for its treatment of the defendant, which had the effect of delaying his case. ... It is a case where the Government reasonably sought to defend the country from a profound and novel threat."

Ghailani faces charges for his alleged involvement in the 1998 bombings of US embassies [PBS backgrounder; JURIST news archive] in Tanzania and Kenya, which killed 224 people. In November, a federal judge ruled [opinion, PDF] that Ghailani does not have a right to be represented by his military defense lawyers [JURIST report] in a civilian court. In July, Ghailani's military lawyers requested access [JURIST report] to the CIA "black sites" at which their client was held prior to his transfer to Guantanamo Bay and was allegedly subjected to cruel interrogation methods. Ghailani was the first Guantanamo detainee to be brought to the US for prosecution. Having been held at the Guantanamo facility since 2006, Ghailani was transferred [JURIST report] to the SDNY in June to face 286 separate counts, including involvement in the bombings and conspiring with Osama bin Laden and other members of al Qaeda to kill Americans worldwide. He pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] at his initial appearance.

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