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7 Navy SEALs granted immunity to testify in case of SEAL accused of murdering ISIS prisoner

Navy SEAL Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher. (Justice for Eddie/Released)
January 28, 2019

In the case of a Navy SEAL accused of murdering an ISIS prisoner, at least seven fellow Navy SEALs have been granted immunity to testify.

Seven Navy SEALs are expected to testify in exchange for immunity during the case of Special Operations Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher, a 19-year Navy veteran, according to a Newsrep report from Sunday and a Los Angeles Times report.

The seven SEALs are those who previously served with Gallagher. Additionally, 13 other witnesses will reportedly testify.

It’s not yet clear if the specific seven SEALs will be testifying for or against Gallagher.

According to a statement by the Gallagher family’s lawyer, the defense has also requested immunity for at least a dozen SEALs specifically to testify on Gallagher’s behalf. The statement also explains the difference in immunity granted to the SEALs:

The prosecutors obtained “testimonial” immunity for 7, and most of them have continued to refuse to speak to the prosecutors unless they get “transactional” immunity. Gallagher’s defense team is in the process of submitting a request for over a dozen more to be granted “transactional” immunity so they can get the truth out to the court.

The difference between “transactional” and “testimonial” immunity is that “transactional” immunity protects the witness from prosecution for the offense or offenses involved, whereas “testimonial” immunity only protects the witness against the government’s use of his or her immunized testimony in a prosecution of the witness — except in a subsequent prosecution for perjury or giving a false statement.

Gallagher was arraigned on Jan. 4 after spending the previous four months in confinement at the Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in San Diego, Calif.

The arraignment took seven weeks after Gallagher’s Article 32 hearing, during which the Navy reviewed the evidence to determine whether or not to proceed with charges.

Gallagher is accused of using a knife to stab a detained 15-year-old ISIS fighter multiple times in May 2017, which eventually resulted in the fighter’s death while in SEAL custody, though Gallagher and his legal team, as well as other evidence, contradict the allegations. He has claimed that multiple fellow SEALs fabricated the numerous charges against him due to disagreement with his leadership style.

He also faces numerous other charges during his 2017 deployment to Iraq, including allegedly posing with the ISIS fighter’s corpse during his re-enlistment ceremony, influencing fellow SEALs to conceal his wrongful behavior, shooting at unarmed Iraqi civilians and abusing controlled substances.

Gallagher’s superior, Lt. Jacob Portier, was also arraigned on Jan. 22 in connection with the alleged crimes.

Portier faces numerous charges, including dereliction of duty, failure to report a war crime, destruction of evidence and interfering with an investigation. He is accused of carrying out Gallagher’s re-enlistment ceremony with the ISIS prisoner’s body, and encouraging fellow SEALs to pose for photos next to the body.

The Navy claims to have evidence – including photos and text messages – from Gallagher proving his wrongdoing, although it has not publicly revealed the evidence, citing security concerns. Defense attorneys have reportedly asked to suppress such evidence during the court-martial, according to Newsrep.

A YouTube video, in addition to exclusive investigative documents obtained by Task & Purpose, show that the ISIS fighter was critically wounded by gunfire with Iraqi forces and succumbed his injuries, which included a severed artery.

The video, uploaded May 15, 2017, shows Iraqi journalist Ali Jawad interviewing the barely conscious ISIS fighter before he was taken into custody and given medical treatment by the Navy SEALs in Gallagher’s unit.

The documents, which detail the interview with Iraqi ERD leaders and a Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) investigator, also indicate that the fighter succumbed to his battle wounds.

Both Gallagher and Portier have pleaded not guilty to all charges against them.

This story has been updated to reflect that the seven Navy SEALs have been granted immunity in exchange for their testimony in the trial, not for testimony specifically against Gallagher.