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Death Penalty Lurks, But Gitmo Detainees Still Barred from Speaking of Their Torture, Mistreatment

'You can't gag somebody and then kill them.'

Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Lawyers for five Guantanamo Bay detainees demanded Tuesday that the Guantanamo War Crimes Tribunal lift the gag order that prohibits their clients from speaking about the torture and systematic mistreatment they faced after coming into custody of the U.S. government and during their incarceration at the offshore prison.

The lawyers also called for their clients' death penalty charges—on accusations they were involved with the 9/11 attacks—to be dropped because of the torture and silencing they have faced.

"If the United States government wants to prevent these men from talking about the horrific things that happened to them, you can't have it both ways," declared defense attorney Cheryl Bormann, who represents Yemeni inmate Walid bin Attash, at Tuesday's pre-trial hearing. "You can't gag somebody and then kill them."

Al Jazeera reports that the five defendants charge they have faced "beatings, sleep deprivation, being subjected to temperature extremes, stress positions and waterboarding – a technique that simulates drowning."

The gag order, imposed by Army Col. Judge James Pohl in January, violates the United Nation Convention Against Torture by prohibiting their clients from making a complaint, the attorneys argue. It also makes it impossible for them to adequately represent their clients, they say.

The five men face the death penalty if convicted.


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