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Guantanamo: 9/11 accused has first visit with lawyer

27-04-2008

BEIJING: A defense attorney has met with suspected September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for the first time at Guantanamo Bay, but the Pentagon-appointed lawyer said he could not reveal details because of "unnecessarily broad" military restrictions.

The Navy lawyer, Captain Prescott Prince, said he used the two-and-a-half-hour meeting on Thursday to explain Mohammed's rights in his upcoming death-penalty trial, but he still does not know whether his client will accept his help.

"This is the first time he's had an opportunity to meet someone who can honestly say he represents his well-being," Prescott said after returning from the Guantanamo Bay naval station in southeast Cuba. "That is a lot for him to digest after having been incarcerated from his capture in 2003."

Prince said he could not share anything Mohammed said, how he looked or the conditions of his confinement under an "unnecessarily broad" protective order that he was required to sign before the meeting. He said he was seeking clearance from the Pentagon to release some details.

A Pentagon spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mohammed and five other prisoners at Guantanamo were charged in February for their roles in the 9/11 attacks and could get the death penalty if convicted. A Pentagon official who oversees the military tribunals must approve the charges before an arraignment is scheduled.

Mohammed, al-Qaida's No 3 leader at the time of his arrest in Pakistan, has been separated from the general detainee population at Guantanamo in a hidden facility with more than 12 other "high-value" detainees.

The CIA says he has been subjected to harsh interrogation techniques including waterboarding.

(Source: Shanghai Daily/Agencies)

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