IN THE COURTS

Lawyer: Guantánamo guards gave unwanted erotic novel to ex-CIA prisoner

 

crosenberg@miamiherald.com

A lawyer for a Guantánamo Bay prisoner accused in the Sept. 11 attacks says guards in the secret maximum-security prison gave his client an apparently contraband copy of the erotic, sometime sadomasochistic novel Fifty Shades of Grey.

Lawyer James Connell said prisoner Ammar al Baluchi, 35, had only recently heard of the book, in a Miami Herald article published Monday morning. A visiting U.S. congressman told the Huffington Post it was the most popular book among men held in the top-secret Camp 7.

But Connell and another lawyer for a prisoner in Camp 7 said that was untrue, and that prisoners had no access to the book. Until Monday night, Connell said, when guards gave it to Baluchi inside his cell after a day at court. Baluchi turned it over to his lawyer unread on Wednesday, said Connell, the next time they saw each other, at the war court.

Baluchi, nephew of the alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, is one of five prisoners charged in the Sept. 11 terror attack. If convicted, he could be executed. He's been in U.S. military custody for more than a decade.

Connell showed a copy of the book. It bore none of the typical Guantánamo prison library markings that serve as an indicator of prison-camp approval. Someone, however, had written the numbers "114-117" on the outside of the novel.

Military spokesmen refused to say whether the code meant that Task Force Platinum, the secret guard force that runs Guantánamo's most clandestine prison, operates an exclusive lending library separate from the main prison complex.

"If this is a practical joke, it has gone too far,” said Connell.

He planned to turn the uncatalogued book to the Camp 7 lawyer, a Navy commander.

As of midday Thursday, a Pentagon spokesman, Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, had no comment on the episode. He specifically would neither confirm nor deny whether an investigation was underway of an allegation that guards gave unwanted reading material to a 9/11 defendant.

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