Navy Prosecutor In Gallagher Case Says Email Snooping Was Harmless
Friday, May 31, 2019
Photo by Nicholas McVicker
A military prosecutor says efforts to track emails to lawyers defending a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes may have intruded on attorney-client privilege but isn't severe enough to throw out the case.
The military judge, Capt. Aaron Rugh, overseeing the case of Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher did not rule Friday on motions by defense lawyers to dismiss the charges or remove prosecutors from the case.
Defense lawyers say prosecutors engaged in misconduct by planting tracking code in emails sent to them and a journalist.
Navy prosecutor Lt. Scott McDonald says the effort only gathered data and did not snoop on the content of emails between lawyers.
Rugh has chided investigators in a Navy SEAL's war crimes case for not testifying about who authorized a scheme to snoop on defense lawyer emails.
He said Friday that refusal to testify could be a sign of culpability.
Rugh is considering whether to dismiss murder and other charges against Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher.
The judge didn't say when he would rule.
Defense lawyers accuse prosecutors of misconduct and want them removed if the judge doesn't throw the case out.
Prosecutors have downplayed the effort to embed code in emails sent to the defense and a journalist in an effort to find the source of news leaks.
Rugh unexpectedly released Gallagher from custody Thursday as a remedy for interference by prosecutors.
Gallagher has pleaded not guilty to crimes in Iraq.
Rugh recessed the case until June 10 when Gallagher faces trial on murder and attempted murder charges.
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