US delaying payment to Guantanamo lawyers: ACLU

US delaying payment to Guantanamo lawyers: ACLU

[JURIST] The US government is preventing the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] from paying lawyers defending Guantanamo Bay terrorism suspects on trial before US military commissions [JURIST news archive], ACLU director Anthony Romero said Tuesday. Lawyers for the group's John Adams Project [advocacy website] are defending detainees included on the US Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Control [official website] list of sanctioned persons [PDF text], but the project must have special licenses in order to pay for the defense [regulatory text, PDF] of the suspects. Romero said the department is unnecessarily delaying the granting of the licenses, and that the project already owes the lawyers more than $200,000 in fees. Treasury Department spokesman John Rankin said the department works as quickly as possible to process all license requests. The Miami Herald has more.

In April, the ACLU and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers [advocacy website] announced plans to raise more than $8 million to provide private defense attorneys [press release; JURIST report] for high-profile detainees, claiming the US military had not provided adequate financing to defend the detainees with the military lawyers appointed to them. Among the detainees chosen by the ACLU and Criminal Defense Lawyers is Khalid Shaikh Mohammed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], who has claimed under oath that he planned the 9/11 attacks [JURIST report] and is responsible for 29 other terrorist attacks. In February, the US government announced plans to seek the death penalty [JURIST report] for Mohammed and five other Guantanamo detainees accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks.