Sunday, May 20, 2007

Military lawyer jailed six months for Gitmo leak

A US Navy lawyer was sentenced to six months in prison on Friday after being found guilty of leaking the names of Guantanamo Bay detainees to a rights attorney, his attorney said.

Lieutenant Commander Matthew Diaz, 41, was also dismissed from the navy as part of his punishment following a week-long court martial at a naval base in Norfolk, Virginia, said the lawyer, Patrick McLain. Diaz, who worked as a legal adviser at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for six months between 2004-2005, was found guilty Thursday of leaking documents containing the names of “war on terror” detainees.

In the final weeks of his assignment at Guantanamo, Diaz photocopied a list of detainee names, hid it in a Valentine’s Day card and addressed it to a lawyer at the Centre for Constitutional Rights, which defends detainees.

Aware that she was not allowed to possess the documents, the rights attorney notified the military.

Diaz, who had pleaded not guilty, said during the sentencing phase of his trial that he had acted in an irrational manner.

For several years the military had refused to release the names of the several hundred detainees at the Guantanamo facility, making it difficult for outside lawyers and human rights organizations to act in their defence. afp