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Guantanamo judge gives defense lawyers access to secret detention area

The judge presiding over the 9/11 military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] has granted defense lawyers access for the first time to Camp 7, the secret facility where detainees are housed. In an order Tuesday that remains classified, Army Col. James Pohl [Miami Herald backgrounder; JURIST news archive] allowed lawyers for the five detainees to spend 12 hours during one visit to Camp 7. The lawyers requested [AP report] 48 hours with the detainees inside the camp and to be allowed multiple visits. Although Pohl only allowed the lawyers limited access to Camp 7, James Connell, a lawyer for detainee Ali Abdul Aziz Ali [JURIST news archive] said that Pohl's decision is a positive step, as it helps lawyers gather more information [Reuters report] about their clients.

The procedures and policies regarding the 9/11 [JURIST backgrounder] military commission hearings have faced significant scrutiny. Last week lawyers for the US Navy contended [JURIST report] that surveillance equipment deployed throughout the Guantanamo Bay detention center was not used to breach attorney-client privilege. Earlier this month a military judge ordered the removal [JURIST report] of any monitoring system that censors the public broadcast of the hearings. In September, a federal judge rejected [JURIST report] new restrictions on the ability of lawyers representing detainees who have had their habeas corpus challenges denied or dismissed to access their clients. In February 2012 the chief US military tribunal judge ruled [JURIST report] that the content of attorney-client mail inspected at the Guantanamo Bay prison is confidential and may not be released.

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