US NAVAL BASE AT GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — An Al-Qaeda magazine was discovered after being smuggled into Guantanamo prison, a senior US official said Wednesday amid a debate on new rules on mail inspections.
Prison staff found an English-language copy of "Inspire" magazine which used to include such articles as how to make bombs, deputy military prosecutor Andrea Lockhart told a military tribunal hearing.
She did not specify how the magazine, which is published by the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was smuggled into the remote US base in southern Cuba nor whether it was discovered during a search of the cells.
But Lockhart said new rules on inspecting the mail between lawyers and detainees were brought in on December 27 after its discovery.
"That was the genesis for the baseline review... that it wasn't working. And there was material that was getting in, like Inspire magazine that should not have been getting in," she said.
The new rules have been hotly contested by lawyers as a violation of their clients rights.
Among the 171 men still held in Guantanamo, some have languished there since the jail was opened 10 years ago this month to house "enemy combatants" detained in the US "war on terror" launched after the 9/11 attacks.
The discussion on the new mail rules took up four hours of debate over two days of a preliminary hearing to fix a trial date for Saudi-born Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri accused of masterminding the USS Cole bombing in 2000 in the Yemeni port of Aden.
US military officials have ordered that the Saudi man's letters and email correspondence be systematically reviewed, which his attorneys have challenged.
It is a "violation of the attorney-client privilege," said Stephen Reyes, one of Nashiri's military defense lawyers, adding that "at the end of the day it's got to stop."
Lockhart shot back that there was a need to "balance the needs of defense and the needs to protect the legitimate government interests."
Judge James Pohl, responding to the concerns, gave the defense and prosecution seven days to offer written arguments.
"There's got to be a new order in a couple of weeks," he said, calling both sides to a new hearing in April. The trial itself is unlikely to take place for several months.
Nashiri is the first defendant to be up for trial since President Barack Obama reversed course and ordered military trials to resume at the US naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba.
The 47-year-old Nashiri, wearing his white prison uniform but without handcuffs, listened attentively to a translation of the discussions.
Nashiri is accused in the plot to bomb USS Cole, killing 17 sailors and wounding 40 more in Yemen.
He is also accused of involvement in an attempted attack against another American warship in Aden, the USS The Sullivans, in January 2000.
US military prosecutors also accuse Nashiri of planning an attack on a French civilian oil tanker MV Limburg in the Gulf of Aden in 2002 that left one Bulgarian crew member dead and caused a 90,000 barrel oil spill.
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