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Audio, video cut during Gitmo hearing

Jan. 29, 2013 at 10:25 AM
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GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- An unknown entity cut audio and video feeds from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during a pre-trial hearing, court observers said.

The audio was cut Monday, the first day of the latest round of pretrial motions in the case of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-professed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, and four co-defendants, The Washington Post reported.

While David Nevin, one of Mohammed's civilian attorneys, was discussing a defense motion to preserve evidence from secret overseas prisons where the defendants were held by the CIA, the audio feed to media centers at Guantanamo and at Fort Meade, Md., were drowned by white noise then the video feed was cut.

When the feeds were restored minutes later, Army Col. James Pohl, the judge, said neither he nor his security officer was responsible for the interruption, The Miami Herald said.

"If some external body is turning the commission off based on their own views of what things ought to be, with no reasonable explanation," Pohl said, "then we are going to have a little meeting about who turns that light on or off."

Nevin's motion was declassified, the Post said.

Justice Department attorney Joanna Baltes, a prosecution team member, said she could explain what happened, but not in public, the Post said.

Before going into a closed session Monday, Pohl said if the events could be explained publicly, he would do so in open session Tuesday.

Court observer Phyllis Rodriguez told the Herald the judge seemed "livid" when he realized someone controlled the censorship switch in his courtroom.

"It's a 'whoa moment' for the court," Human Rights Watch observer Laura Pitter said. "Even the judge doesn't know that someone else has control over the censorship button?"

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