SEAL Charged With War Crimes To Remain In Custody
A U.S. Navy SEAL charged with war crimes will not be released before his trial, despite a Tweet from the President.
Chief Eddie Gallagher was taken into custody September 11 of last year and charged with a series of crimes including killing a teenage ISIS fighter in his custody in Syria in 2017. A group of congressmen, including U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, have spoken in his defense. On March 30, President Trump sent a Tweet, which helped get Gallagher moved from the brig to the Naval Medical Center in San Diego.
Gallagher’s attorney Timothy Parlatore was in court Thursday, asking the judge to remove more of the restrictions.
“He should never have been in the brig in the first place,” he said. “He’s not a risk of flight. He’s known about this investigation for months, and he didn’t run away.”
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He has been limited to a few floors in a barracks building and must be escorted to meals, under an order issued by Naval Special Warfare Group 1 Commodore Capt. Matthew D. Rosenbloom. Judge Aaron Rough told the courtroom that he does not have the authority to overrule the SEAL command and release Gallagher.
The judge did rule the number of restrictions is the equivalent of remaining in confinement. If convicted, Gallagher will receive one day off of his sentence for every day he remains in pretrial confinement under the current conditions, just as if he were still housed in Naval Consolidated Brig at Miramar.
Gallagher’s attorneys asked for several restrictions to be lifted, including allowing his to walk to meals without an escort and meet with family beyond the four-hour window, allowed under the current order.
The judge did request that the SEALs allow Gallagher to be given greater access to a computer and private phone line, so he can better aid in his own defense.
Gallagher’s case has attracted attention both nationally and locally. A handful of his supporters attended the hearing.
“Well it’s better than the brig, but anything would be better than the brig,” said Char Ekoniak, Gallagher supporter. “He has a room but he can’t have any contact with the outside world without being supervised.”
Prosecutors maintain that Gallagher was confined after making threats against fellow SEALs, who are set to testify against him in his trial. The trial is scheduled to begin on May 28.