GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — A military judge on Thursday began hearing secret testimony about hidden microphones, allegations of eavesdropping and other government interference in the work of defense lawyers in the case of a Saudi man who is accused of masterminding the bombing of the Navy destroyer Cole in 2000.
About 85 witnesses, all but one unidentified, were being called to testify over eight days on the issue, which has been a major impediment to getting a trial underway since even before a 600-day hiatus in court proceedings caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
At a brief open session on Tuesday, the defendant, Abd-al Rahim al-Nashiri, responded “yes” and gave a thumbs-up when the Army judge, Col. Lanny J. Acosta Jr., asked if he understood that he did not have to attend open hearings.
The question was largely pro forma. Colonel Acosta soon closed the court, excluding both the defendant and the public from the hearing on how two recording devices ended up in a confidential legal meeting room where Mr. Nashiri convened with his lawyers for more than three years, and whether prosecutors deliberately misled the war court and an appellate court on the matter.