Edward “Eddie” Gallagher, a decorated Navy SEAL accused of several war crimes including killing a teen ISIS fighter in 2017, remains free while a Navy judge considers a series of motions, including dismissal of the case, presented Friday, May 31, by the defense team.
During a 3 1/2-hour hearing in a San Diego courtroom, Navy Judge Aaron Rugh listened to four motions from Gallagher’s defense: to recuse the prosecutor; compel the prosecutor to testify; consider whether there has been undue command influence in the case from officials in Washington; and, ultimately, to dismiss the entire case.
The judge made no ruling and there’s no timeline for one, said Navy spokesman Brian O’Rourke.
Gallagher, a Special Warfare Operations Chief, and his wife, Andrea, were present at the hearing. Gallagher spoke only a couple of times when he was addressed by the judge, O’Rourke said.
On Thursday, Rugh freed Gallagher from custody, citing interference in the court-martial by prosecutors.
Tim Parlatore, one of Gallagher’s defense attorneys, accused prosecutors of a “rogue, relentless, and unlawful cyber campaign” that was used to find the source of news leaks discovered in January. He said that behavior may have violated attorney-client privilege and therefore would hurt Gallagher’s chance for a fair trial.
In recent weeks, Parlatore and Marc Mukasey, a member of President Donald Trump’s legal team, discovered evidence to prove that the prosecutor, Cmdr. Chris Czaplak, had attached tracking devices to emails that were sent to at least 13 attorneys and the editor of the Navy Times.
Czaplak admitted to the tracking but downplayed what the technology’s capabilities were. In court, Navy prosecutors said the email “auditing tools” they used were designed merely to detect the flow of emails without revealing their content.
“They’re calling it an audit tool when it is really a beacon,” Parlatore said last week. “It tracks IP addresses, sees when you open it, who you’re forwarding it to.”
Last week, a New York Times article reported that Trump was considering a pardon for Gallagher and several other military members accused or convicted of war crimes. That didn’t happen over the Memorial Day weekend, as originally expected.
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 Feb. 4 hearing.
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 trial is set to start June 10.
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