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Former bin Laden cook reaches secret sentencing deal with U.S. government

Posted on August 9 2010 6:15 pm
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by Peter Finn

GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA — A former cook for Osama bin Laden’s entourage in Afghanistan has reached a secret agreement with the U.S. government that will allow him to serve any sentence at a minimum-security facility at Guantanamo Bay, according to statements by lawyers at a military commission on Monday.

Ibrahim al-Qosi, a 50-year-old native of Sudan, who worked for bin Laden for years before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy and material support for terrorism as part of a pre-trial agreement. The case marked the first conviction at Guantanamo Bay under President Obama, whose administration had promised that reformed military commissions would offer greater due process and more transparency.

But the government and the defense, with the blessing of Judge Nancy J. Paul, an Air Force lieutenant colonel, have sealed the newly reached agreement, including the maximum sentence that Qosi can serve.

A spokesman for the military commission’s prosecutors, Navy Capt. David Iglesias, refused to discuss the agreement or explain why it was kept secret, except to say the plea raises “security issues” and is to the benefit of both Qosi and the government.

A military defense lawyer would also not discuss the agreement.

Only three detainees were convicted at Guantanamo under the Bush administration, and two of those have since been released. The trial of Omar Khadr, the youngest detainee at Guantanamo, is scheduled to start later this week.

A jury of at least five military members will be selected in Qosi’s case, ostensibly to hear evidence and determine a sentence for him.

But if they impose a prison sentence that exceeds the sentence laid out in the plea agreement, it will be moot, unless Qosi breaks the agreement. A government lawyer said in court Monday that Qosi has met all of his obligations under the pact.

Iglesias also refused to say whether the government has guaranteed Qosi that he will be repatriated to Sudan after he serves any sentence. The Obama administration, much like the Bush administration, asserts a right to detain what it calls “unprivileged belligerents” under the laws of war, a claim that is independent of any military commission finding.

Read More at The Washington Post

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