ACLU to Argue Wednesday at Guantánamo Tribunal Against Censorship of Torture Testimony

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Josh Bell, (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

ACLU to Argue Wednesday at Guantánamo Tribunal Against Censorship of Torture Testimony

ACLU Motion Asserts Public’s Constitutional Right to Open Trials and Challenges Government’s Proposed Gag Order

GUANTÁNAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba - Tomorrow, a military commission judge at Guantánamo Bay will hear oral argument on the American Civil Liberties Union’s challenge to censorship of torture testimony at the trial of the 9/11 defendants. This will be the ACLU’s first appearance arguing before the tribunal.

In May, the ACLU filed a motion asking the commission to deny the government’s request to prevent the public from hearing all statements by the defendants about their torture and detention while in U.S. custody. On that basis, the motion asks the commission to bar a delayed audio feed of the proceedings, or, in the alternative, promptly release an uncensored transcript.

“For centuries the First Amendment has guaranteed open trials, and the government’s claim that it can keep from the public the defendants’ testimony about their memories of torture is legally untenable and morally abhorrent,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project and the attorney who will argue the motion Wednesday. “There is an ongoing public debate about the fairness and transparency of the Guantánamo military commissions, and if the government succeeds in censoring torture testimony, the commissions will certainly not be seen as legitimate.”

The government contends that any statements by the defendants’ concerning their “exposure” to the CIA’s detention and interrogation program are presumptively classified as “sources, methods and activities” of the U.S. and can be withheld from the public. A group of 14 press organizations will also be arguing Wednesday for the media’s right to access all of the commission's proceedings.

The ACLU’s motion is at:
www.aclu.org/files/assets/aclu_motion_for_public_access_5_2_12.pdf

The ACLU’s reply brief is at:
www.aclu.org/files/assets/aclu_reply_brief_-_motion_for_public_access_at...

The ACLU has sent and continues to send a legal observer to every proceeding of the Guantánamo military commissions. In addition to Shamsi’s appearance Wednesday, Michael Kaufman, attorney with the ACLU of Southern California, will be present for all scheduled hearings Wednesday through Tuesday.

You can read regular updates and analysis from the ACLU attorneys at Guantánamo at:
www.aclu.org/category/tags/guantanamo-dispatch

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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