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Homeland Security

Judge Orders End to Censoring Guantanamo Hearings

January 31, 2013

by VOA News

The military judge handling the trial of five men charged with the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States has ordered the government to stop censoring pre-trial hearings from outside his courtroom at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

Proceedings are heard with a 40-second delay in a room where human rights groups and victims families sit, in Guantanamo's media center, and by additional reporters at Fort Meade, Maryland.

A security officer sitting next to the judge can block any classified information. The judge said he was surprised and angry, however, that a censoring mechanism was activated Monday from outside the court, without his knowledge.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other alleged co-conspirators with the 9/11 terrorist attacks did not appear Thursday for a hearing.

The five men face the death penalty if convicted. The 9/11 attacks left nearly 3,000 people dead. There is still no trial date set.

The case remains tangled in legal motions that are taking months to resolve, before trial conditions can be set. The special military court established seven years ago is working to ensure the trial is fair and transparent.

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