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Navy upholds punishment for SEAL pictured with dead IS fighter

By
Nicholas Sakelaris
A U.S. Navy SEAL will have his rank reduced one grade for his conviction on a war crime. File Photo by Sgt. Matthew Callahan/U.S. Marine Corps/UPI
A U.S. Navy SEAL will have his rank reduced one grade for his conviction on a war crime. File Photo by Sgt. Matthew Callahan/U.S. Marine Corps/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy's top officer has upheld a jury's punishment for a Navy SEAL for posing for a photograph next to the body of a dead Islamic State fighter.

Eddie Gallagher, a former chief petty officer from San Diego, was sentenced to four months confinement and loss of rank. He was convicted on one charge of taking the photo.

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"After careful consideration as the convening authority, Adm. [Mike] Gilday decided to uphold the sentence as adjudged by a jury of Gallagher's peers but disapproved the automatic reduction in rate to E-1," Navy Cmdr. Nate Christensen said.

Gallagher attorney Timothy Parlatore said he was disappointed his client didn't receive clemency for misconduct of Navy officials during the court-martial and the less serious nature of the offense.

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His reduction in rank to E-6 will cost Gallagher $200,000 when he retires, Parlatore said.

Gallagher was charged with multiple war crimes, including shooting civilians in Iraq and murdering a wounded Islamic State fighter in 2017. A jury of mostly Marine combat veterans convicted him on only the photo charge.

The case was marred by leaks and accusations that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service sent email trackers to Gallagher's defense attorneys and to a reporter in the weeks before the trial. Also, a key witness said he killed the Islamic State fighter, not Gallagher.

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President Donald Trump ordered the Navy in August to rescind the medals awarded to Gallagher's prosecutors, saying they were "ridiculously given."

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said the case demonstrates the military justice system is "completely broken and desperately requires a complete overhaul."

Hunter, co-founder of Justice for Warriors Caucus, called the ruling "mind boggling" and requested a presidential pardon for Gallagher. Justice for Warriors Caucus advocates for service members in the military justice system.

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