A soldier in a guard tower at Guantanamo. (JTF Guantanamo photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)
Guantanamo has been struck by another controversy this week after files belonging to defense attorneys for two high-profile terror suspects began to disappear from their computers.
Last month, it came out that smoke detectors installed in some of the rooms where suspects met with their attorneys were detecting more than smoke. Now, according to a Reuters report, it seems someone has been snooping around the defense’s computers.
Navy Commander Walter Ruiz, who represents 9/11 defendant Mustafa al Hawsawi, said “three to four weeks’ worth of work is gone, vanished.”
But some new files of suspicious origin also mysteriously appeared.
He said what appeared to be a computer folder of prosecution files had turned up on the defense lawyers’ system, though none of them had opened the files.
The odd computer behavior led a judge to push week-long terror hearings scheduled this month back into June. The judge also ordered attorneys on both sides to stop using their government-issued computers.
It wasn’t clear based on the Reuters report if there is an investigation into the matter. The string of suspicious-at-best developments in Guantanamo trials is unsettling, to say the least. It seems odd that someone – presumably within the U.S. government and with access to the facilities – would be jeopardizing the integrity of such a vital trial.
If the defendants are in fact guilty of the crimes they’re accused of, those meddling with the process in their cases are only serving to damage the integrity of any outcome. If anything, all of the controversies around the case are only increasing the chances a guilty man walks free, not to mention turning public opinion against the trials.