An attorney working for a 9/11-linked alleged jihadi held at the Guantánamo Bay prison is seeking to pressure the Pentagon into lifting restrictions that prevent his client from disseminating his art, arguing that the prisoner gets therapeutic benefit from creating and sharing his work.
Alka Pradhan, the attorney of Ammar al-Baluchi who is serving time at the detention center, told the Associated Press (AP), “The fact of the matter is, you cannot discount every possible method of humanizing these men to the public when they have been so dehumanized by the government for so long.”
Baluchi, a nephew of suspected 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, reportedly helped plan the heinous attacks as an alleged senior member of al-Qaeda.
Expressing disgust that some detainees are allowed to create art, Jim Riches, a retired deputy fire chief whose firefighter son fell victim to the al-Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, told AP:
My son doesn’t have a right to breathe. They shouldn’t have a right to draw. My son went to work, and he died that day. These are the guys that plotted to kill them. I think they forfeited their rights to draw any pictures or whatever they want to do.
Navy Cmdr. Sarah Higgins, a Pentagon spokeswoman, told AP that all items produced by prisoners at the Guantánamo Bay facility, commonly known as Gitmo, “remain the property of the U.S. government.”
She indicated that the Pentagon could not comment further given the ongoing litigation involving the Gitmo detainee.
Baluchi is awaiting a trial by a military tribunal.
Ammar al Baluchi’s attorneys sent a motion to a military commission on Wednesday, saying the Department of Defense has violated his rights by making it more difficult for him to draw and paint and by blocking him from giving his artwork to his attorneys.
Lawyer Alka Pradhan said the restrictions should be lifted because al Baluchi, who’s awaiting a trial by a military tribunal, gets a therapeutic benefit from being able to create and share his work and because it could help him appear more human to the officials who may decide whether he is put to death.
U.S. military prosecutors have reportedly accused Baluchi of being a senior al-Qaeda jihadi directly involved in financially assisting several of the 9/11 hijackers get to the United States.
“The defense says there’s no proof he made those transactions or knew the hijackers intended to attack the United States,” notes AP.
Pentagon officials decided to impose restrictions on the detainee’s art after some of his pieces got media attention.
Gitmo still houses 41 detainees, including 26 who have been deemed “forever prisoners,” or too dangerous to release.
Despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to “to load [Guantánamo] up with some bad dudes,” his administration is reportedly pushing ahead with the first repatriation of a prisoner held at the facility.