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    Denying 9/11 Suspects Family Contacts Imposes Illegal Pretrial Punishment

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    The US government’s refusal to allow the suspected plotters of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to communicate with their families is a violation of international and US law, the defense attorney for Walid bin Attash said in a pretrial hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on Wednesday.

    GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE (Sputnik), Joanne Stocker — At present, Guantanamo Bay detainees are limited to sending two one-page letters and four postcards through the International Committee of the Red Cross every month.

    "The explanation for… that amount [of allowed communication] is insufficient, and is in violation of US law and international law," Michael Schwartz told Judge James Pohl. "The level of communication that is allowed today amounts to pretrial punishment."

    Schwartz explained that international law and the laws of war permit detainees to have "appropriate contact" with the outside world, which includes video messaging, phone calls, visits and exchange of letters.

    In addition, Schwartz said the inability of the defense to contact bin Attash’s family impedes their ability to gather mitigating evidence.

    Such evidence would be important for lawyers to argue against the death penalty if bin Attash is convicted of involvement in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States.

    Schwartz noted that during bin Attash’s 13 years of detention by the US government, he has sent one video message to his family.

    Bin Attash and four other defendants on trial at Guantanamo Bay are charged with conspiracy, attacking civilians, murder, violation of the laws of war, hijacking and terrorism.

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    Tags:
    prisoners, human rights, 9/11, Guantanamo Bay, United States
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