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Navy prosecutor admits in court he spied on SEAL lawyers and media, defense says

Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher in Mosul. (Courtesy of Andrea Gallagher)
May 15, 2019

A Navy prosecutor has admitted in court that he spied on Navy SEAL defense lawyers and a member of the media, one of the SEALs’ attorneys said this week.

Tim Parlatore, the civilian defense attorney for Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, confirmed to American Military News that the prosecutor, Cmdr. Christopher Czaplak, admitted in a closed door hearing on Friday that emails were sent with spy software, and that it was sent in order to investigate leaks in the case.

“Here we’ve got all these leaks. The leaked material is judicial decisions that are positive to the prosecution and negative to the defense,” Parlatore said. “You’ve got evidence that the defense has never seen before, and the defense finds out from the media that it exists and goes back to prosecutor to ask if they’re withholding evidence. What makes you believe it’s a good idea to investigate me?”

“Why are you tracking my emails? Shouldn’t the prosecution be the ones having their emails tracked? Shouldn’t NCIS [Naval Criminal Investigative Service] have their emails tracked?” he asked.

The Navy prosecutor gave no explanation as to why the tracking was sent, nor what authority it was who permitted it.

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“He’s claiming it was approved by highest levels at Pentagon and Department of Justice,” Parlatore pointed out.

However, despite his admittance, there is no repercussion, he noted.

“He just admitted to committing an ethical violation, and you want me to trust him,” Parlatore said. “The judge says no evidence [of the violation] – but he admitted to doing it.”

It was revealed Monday that a Navy prosecutor installed tracking software into recent emails sent to defense attorneys and one reporter in an effort to spy.

The prosecutor’s effort was to try and see who might be leaking information to the media. But the ones suspected of leaking information are the Navy prosecutors, Parlatore has pointed out repeatedly in the past.

Gallagher, a 15-year Navy SEAL, is charged with premeditated murder, accused of stabbing and killing a critically wounded ISIS fighter during a 2017 deployment to Mosul. He is also accused of shooting at unarmed civilians. He has pleaded not guilty.

The defense team for Lt. Jacob Portier, Gallagher’s commander who is charged with conduct unbecoming of an officer in connection to Gallagher’s case, filed a motion Monday asking a military judge to have the prosecutors hand over information about what they were seeking and how deep the spying went. The tracking software was sent last Wednesday to 13 lawyers and paralegals, and one reporter.

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The tracking software was embedded in an American flag logo that had a bald eagle perched on the scales of justice, under Czaplak’s signature.

Gallagher, 39, was arrested on Sept. 11, 2018, and was held in Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in San Diego for more than seven months before President Donald Trump took note of the case. In late March, Trump tweeted an order that Gallagher be moved to less-restrictive pre-trial conditions, this after more than 50 members of Congress called for urgent attention to the case and implored investigations into how Navy is handling both the case and Gallagher’s treatment. He has been at the medical center since, preparing for his court-martial trial slated to begin May 28.