TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Attorneys for an Air Force interpreter
facing a court-martial on attempted espionage charges launched a final push
Monday to stave off a military trial.
Defense lawyers for Senior Airman Ahmad Al Halabi, 25, argued that the Air
Force has failed to make a case against him. Al Halabi is accused of trying
to pass off classified documents after a stint at the high-security
Guantanamo Bay military base housing prisoners from the war on terrorism.
Al Halabi’s defense team intends to introduce up to two dozen motions in a
bid to get charges dropped or the case dismissed.
“We’ve said from Day One our client is not a spy, he’s not a terrorist,
he’s not linked to any terrorist groups,” said Don Rehkopf, a defense
attorney representing Al Halabi, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Syria.
But the attorneys’ efforts met with mixed results. The military judge, Col.
Barbara Brand, rejected arguments that Al Halabi — who was arrested in
June 2003 and jailed for 10 months before his release in the spring — was
denied his right to a speedy trial.
Brand agreed with prosecutors’ arguments that any delays were caused by the
complexity of the case.
But behind closed doors, the judge prodded military prosecutors to
determine exactly what charges they intend to bring to trial, a decision
that will be made by Gen. William Welser III, 18th Air Force commander and
officer in charge of Travis Air Force Base..