U.S. seeks to block CIA testimony in Afghan abuse case
RALEIGH, North Carolina. (AP) -- The trial of a CIA contractor accused of beating an Afghan detainee went behind closed doors Monday as
Even the titles of some of the potential witnesses for the trial of David Passaro are classified and can't be discussed in open court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Candelmo argued during a morning hearing.
Assistant public defender Joe Gilbert argued that prosecutors were -- the sharing of information by defense and prosecution --
and they shouldn't be allowed to do this," Gilbert said.
After a closed session, the hearing was adjourned for lunch. It was not clear if U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle ruled on the effort to keep CIA witnesses from testifying but he said jury selection would begin as scheduled during the afternoon.
Passaro, 40, a former Special Forces medic, is the first civilian charged with mistreating a detainee during the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The detainee died a few days after being attacked.
The government contends soldiers saw Passaro beat detainee Abdul Wali with his hands, his feet and a flashlight in June 2003 during two days of questioning about rocket attacks on a base housing U.S. and Afghan troops. Wali later died in his cell.
Passaro isn't charged with his death but with two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and two counts of assault resulting in serious injury. If convicted, he will face up to 40 years in prison.
The government is prosecuting Passaro under a provision of the USA Patriot Act that allows charges against U.S. citizens for crimes committed on land or facilities designated for use by the U.S. government.
Passaro has maintained his innocence, calling the charges a reaction by the Bush administration to the Abu Ghraib scandal, in which several soldiers have been sentenced to military prison.