According to an emergency motion filed late last night in the trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, one of the defense team's lawyers was interrogated by the FBI, possibly compromising their case. The motion, first reported by the Miami Herald's Carol Rosenberg, derailed a planned competency hearing at Guantanamo Bay this morning.
According to Rosenberg's report, the FBI approached the defense team member while looking into how the media obtained a copy of the prison camp writings of Mohammed, who is accused of being the mastermind of the September 11 attacks. He currently faces trial at the Cuban prison where he is being held, with four others accused of conspiring with him.
The defense team now wants the court to look into whether the FBI has turned a member of Yemeni captive Ramzi bin al Shibh's legal team into a "confidential informant." That interrogation, the emergency order claims, carries the implication "that all defense teams have a potential conflict of interest between their loyalty to their clients and their interest in demonstrating their innocence to FBI investigators.” If true, it would mean the federal government had created a source on the defense team of a person they are currently trying to prosecute.
The competency hearing got underway on Monday morning with questions about the emergency motion, as documented by present reporters Rosenberg and Spencer Ackerman:
bin al-Shibh lawyer says until the court investigates FBI flipping a member of his defense team "I do not see how anything can go forward."— Spencer Ackerman (@attackerman) April 14, 2014
Shorter Gitmo 9/11 defense legal team: we need time to figure out who else on our team is talking to the FBI secretly.— Spencer Ackerman (@attackerman) April 14, 2014
For Hawsawi, lawyer Walter Ruiz says he needs to consult his team, see if FBI similarly consulted, enlisted them. But some of team absent.— Carol Rosenberg (@carolrosenberg) April 14, 2014
Cheryl Bormann says there's an attachment to emergency motion showing a #911 defense team member signed a non-disclosure agreement with FBI.— Carol Rosenberg (@carolrosenberg) April 14, 2014
It was adjourned shortly thereafter. Today's competency hearing was the first pre-trial hearing in the 9/11 war crimes case. The Pentagon is seeking capital punishment against all five detainees in the military trial, which could take years to complete.