First Guantánamo Detainee to Be Tried in New York, Pleads Not Guilty

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Photo: nytimes.com

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani looks sort of harmless and small in this photo, but he's accused of helping to obtain explosives and aiding in attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. The explosions left 224 dead and thousands wounded. He also was allegedly a personal chef and bodyguard to Osama bin Laden, and received explosives and weapons training from Al Qaeda. He also made fake passports for the terrorist organization, according to the U.S. government, which has held him captive since 2004 and at Guantánamo since 2006. Yesterday in Federal District Court in Manhattan, Ghailani was the first Guantánamo detainee to begin standing civilian trial. He pleaded not guilty, and was shipped off to the Metropolitan Correctional Center. It's expected it will take weeks for his trial to actually begin, as there are "voluminous" documents for the defense to go through, and a study of how he was treated while in captivity must be done to see whether it will affect a verdict. (The defendant claims he was a victim of enhanced interrogation techniques.) Judge Loretta Preska is presiding, and Ghailani's representation is still being decided — although his military lawyers will stay on to assist.

A Plea of Not Guilty for Guantánamo Detainee [NYT]