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Attorney for Navy SEAL Gallagher says prosecutor should ‘face criminal charges’ for spying

Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher. (Courtesy of Andrea Gallagher)

An attorney representing decorated Navy SEAL Edward “Eddie” Gallagher, who is accused of several war crimes including killing a teen ISIS fighter in 2017, said Thursday, May 23, that the Navy prosecutor in his client’s case should face criminal charges and be disbarred.

“The conduct of the prosecution is egregious,” said Tim Parlatore, a New York-based attorney, who is among several, including Marc Mukasey, a member of President Donald Trump’s legal team, defending the 39-year-old Gallagher. “(Cmdr.) Chris Czaplak should lose his law license and face criminal charges. He illegally spied on the defense attorneys and the media. The prosecutor needs his own defense attorney.”

Parlatore said he will ask Navy Judge Capt. Aaron Rugh, on Friday, to dismiss the case against Gallagher.

The recent moves follow a hearing on Wednesday in a Naval Base San Diego courtroom during which Parlatore and three other defense attorneys, and Czaplak, discussed recent email tracking and its link to leaked documents in Gallagher’s case.

Parlatore reiterated his claims that emails containing tracking devices were distributed to 13 lawyers and paralegals on the defense team, as well as to the editor of Navy Times.

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“They admitted it on May 10 and reaffirmed that they did again yesterday,” Parlatore said on Thursday.

Addressing the original allegations, Brian O’Rourke, a spokesman for the Navy Region Southwest, said earlier, “This is all related to an investigation on court-protected documents and because of that, I can’t respond.” Navy Region Southwest is the court-martial’s convening authority.

O’Rourke added that in January, the presiding military judge issued a protective order to limit the distribution of documents associated with Gallagher’s case.

“Following several violations of this protective order, NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) initiated a separate investigation into the violations,” O’Rourke said.

Parlatore said the prosecution is trying to downplay the email tracking.

“They’re calling it an audit tool when it is really a beacon,” he said. “It tracks IP addresses, sees when you open it, who you’re forwarding it to. Prosecutors are trying to justify their actions. It’s like the wolf guarding the hen house.”

Under U.S. criminal law, authorities normally have to obtain a subpoena or court order to acquire IP addresses or other metadata from a private computer. Not using one could be a violation of federal privacy laws, including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

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In addition to Parlatore’s plan to ask for dismissal, media reports have said Pres. Trump may issue a pardon to Gallagher and several other military members accused or convicted of war crimes, including high-profile cases of murder, attempted murder and desecration of a corpse.

But Parlatore said Thursday that neither he nor Trump’s attorney, Mukasey, were aware of the president’s plans on the issue of a pardon for Gallagher.

“We only know what The New York Times wrote,” Parlatore said. “We’re not aware of any plans. We’re not requesting a pardon. Our focus is to fight the case in court.”

Typically, a pardon could imply guilt but Parlatore said there is no requirement in the admission of guilt.

“He is not guilty,” Parlatore said. “If he accepted it, it would be a means to end this nightmare for himself and his family. A pardon is one of many mechanisms to stop an improper prosecution.”

Rugh is scheduled to hold another hearing on Wednesday, May 29 — a day after Gallagher’s trial was originally set to begin.

Gallagher was arrested Sept. 11 while being treated at Camp Pendleton’s Intrepid Spirit Center. The 19-year Navy veteran is accused of premeditated murder in the fatal stabbing of a 15-year-old ISIS fighter. At the time, he was serving as a medic with Naval Special Warfare Group One based out of San Diego.

Two other charges — one accusing Gallagher of posing with the corpse of the teen while filming an enlistment video and one accusing him of flying a drone over the teen’s corpse — were thrown out during a hearing on Feb.4.

Gallagher is also charged with shooting a man in June 2017 and a woman in July of that year, both civilians classified as “noncombatants,” according to charge sheets.

On Jan. 4, Gallagher was arraigned on charges of premeditated murder and assault with a deadly weapon. He pleaded “not guilty” to all war crimes he is accused of committing during his 2017 deployment in Iraq.

Gallagher’s platoon commander, Lt. Jacob Portier, is fighting charges of conduct unbecoming an officer for allegedly conducting Gallagher’s re-enlistment ceremony next to the corpse.

Gallagher’s case has attracted national attention, with some Republican lawmakers asking for a dismissal.

In March, Trump tweeted about his confinement and Gallagher subsequently was moved from the brig to confinement at the Naval hospital.

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© 2019 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.