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N.Y. judge limits use of coerced intelligence testimony

By Larry Neumeister
Associated Press / October 15, 2010

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NEW YORK — The government cannot coerce a detainee to provide information for intelligence purposes and then use the evidence in criminal proceedings, the judge presiding over the first civilian trial of a Guantanamo detainee said in a ruling that also branded a man the government once said was its most important witness as a liar.

In the redacted ruling released yesterday, US District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan explained his reasons for deciding to block the witness, Hussein Abebe, from Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani’s trial.

Kaplan’s decision will probably set a legal precedent for the handling of evidence gathered from interrogations of other detainees who were subjected to CIA interrogation. The Obama administration hopes to bring purported 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and several others to civilian courts.

Kaplan said prosecutors failed to show Ghailani’s rough CIA interrogation played no role in getting the witness to cooperate.

“If the government is going to coerce a detainee to provide information to our intelligence agencies, it may not use that evidence . . . to prosecute the detainee for a criminal offense.’’

Ghailani is charged with conspiracy in the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa. The attacks killed 224 people, including a dozen Americans.

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