Judge Postpones Terrorism Trial One Week for Questions

, New York Law Journal

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Jury selection in the trial of Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghayth, has been postponed for a week by Southern District Judge Lewis Kaplan so that his lawyers can give written questions to top al Qaeda figure Khalid Sheik Mohammed at Guantanamo Bay.

With jury selection initially scheduled for Feb. 24, defense lawyer Stanley Cohen had asked Kaplan for a 45-day extension to get answers from Mohammed, whom he believes can provide testimony that would exculpate Abu Ghayth from allegedly conspiring to kill Americans, and from providing material support and resources to terrorists and the government.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Lewin had agreed to allow access to Mohammed in the form of government-screened written questions, as long as the answers to the questions could also be screened for national security reasons. Lewin said the government had acquiesced to an extension of one week.

At an afternoon conference Wednesday, Kaplan expressed skepticism that he would have allowed the defense much access, if any, to Mohammed based on their submissions, but with the government consenting under conditions, the judge allowed the process to move forward.

Absent some other development, Cohen said jury selection would begin March 3.

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