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Defense demands abuse evidence in USS Cole bombing case

By Tom Ramstack

FORT MEADE Md. (Reuters) - A Guantanamo Bay detainee accused of organizing the 2000 bombing of the U.S. warship USS Cole asked a military judge on Wednesday for a classified Senate report on CIA interrogation techniques as part of his defense in the death penalty case.

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi Arabian national of Yemeni descent, is accused of organizing the suicide bombing of the Cole that killed 17 American sailors and injured 42 in a Yemeni port.

Al-Nashiri was arrested in 2002 and held at secret Central Intelligence Agency prisons before being transferred to Guantanamo.

Al-Nashiri's lawyers have said he was tortured during his detention with waterboarding and death threats by military personnel using guns and electric drills. They argue that they need the Senate report to see if it contains evidence that would help them defend al-Nashiri.

Al-Nashiri, whose trial is tentatively set to begin in February, sat quietly beside his attorneys on Wednesday during the hearing at Guantanamo Bay, which was monitored on closed circuit television by Reuters at a Fort Meade press room.

The pre-trial hearing is scheduled to continue on Thursday but in a session closed to the media.

Army Colonel Judge James Pohl last month ordered prosecutors to give defense attorneys details of any abuse of al-Nashiri. Prosecutors argued Wednesday he should rescind the order.

Defense attorneys say some of the evidence might be found in a more than 6,200-page report on harsh interrogation of Guantanamo detainees prepared by the Senate Intelligence Committee. A shorter summary of the report is the only portion authorized for release to attorneys handling the case.

Army Major Thomas Hurley, a defense attorney, said the longer Senate report was necessary to build their case and asked the judge to order the Senate to produce the report.

"You should hold the government’s feet to the fire," he said.

Navy Commander Andrea Lockhart, a prosecutor, said any relevant evidence was in the summary version of the report and available to defense attorneys. The full report has not been turned over to prosecutors.

Prosecutors say the judge lacks authority to order the Senate to turn over the report.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg, Chizu Nomiyama and Cynthia Osterman)

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