The trial of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes has been delayed after a judge called for an investigation into why a Navy prosecutor used tracking software in emails to spy on defense attorneys and a member of the press.
Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher’s trial was slated to begin Tuesday, May 28, but Judge Capt. Aaron Rugh said Wednesday that the prosecution needs to hand over a list of “anybody that put their hands on this,” the Associated Press reported.
Andrea Gallagher told American Military News that the court-martial trial will not begin on Tuesday as expected. Eddie Gallagher’s defense team and family argues this illegal spying compromises his right to a fair trial.
“What we believed is that the judge authorized prosecutors to spy on the defense team,” one of Gallagher’s civilian defense attorneys, Tim Parlatore, told the AP. “Now looking at things, it appears that prosecutors may have lied to the judge and that he didn’t authorize it, and he didn’t know what they were really doing.”
A Navy prosecutor, Cmdr. Christopher Czaplak, admitted in court that he spied on Navy SEAL defense lawyers and a member of the media, Parlatore had confirmed to American Military News. He admitted that emails were sent with spy software, and that they were sent in order to investigate leaks in the case.
Gallagher’s defense team has called for the judge to be pulled off this case, and they have also called for the case to be thrown out entirely.
“It was revealed that one of the defense attorneys targeted by the spying emails sent by prosecution included Marc Mukasey, who also serves as private counsel to President Trump. In other words, counsel to the President of the United States May have had his confidential communications compromised by this completely incompetent government trial team,” Andrea Gallagher posted to Instagram on Wednesday.
Rugh has ordered that a full hearing take place regarding the hacked emails, Andrea Gallagher said, pointing out that this now is a “trial within a trial” and that her husband’s trial – slated to begin May 28 – is being delayed.
Members of the media and news outlets confirmed Wednesday and Thursday that Mukasey, one of President Donald Trump’s personal attorneys, is a member of Gallagher’s defense team; he had joined in recent months. It was also revealed that former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik had joined the defense team. Both men have connections to President Trump, who is considering pardoning Gallagher and other service members accused of war crimes.
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, and his trial was set to begin May 28.
President Trump is said to be considering pardoning Gallagher, and other service members, accused of war crimes.