Pandemic-Related Sickness Forces Cancellation of Sept. 11 Hearing at Guantanamo

Lawyers sent word Friday that the hearing was canceled because of illness among some trial participants.

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Pandemic-related illness forces cancellation of Sept. 11 hearing at Guantanamo.

Camp Justice, where the Guantanamo military commissions are held, at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba on September 7.Credit…Paul Handley/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Sept. 17, 2021, 11:12 a.m. ET

FORT MEADE, Md. — Illness related to the coronavirus pandemic on Friday caused the military judge in the Sept. 11, 20001 case to abruptly cancel a hearing and end this month’s pretrial session a day early.

Lawyers, the defendants and the judge, Col. Matthew N. McCall of the Air Force, were due in court Friday morning for the final day of arguments in a two-week hearing of the case involving a defendant’s continuing effort to get information about his forced shaving in both C.I.A. custody and in 2007 at Guantanamo.

These were the first hearings of the coronavirus pandemic, and signaled a restarting of the case with a new judge, who said Monday the trial could not begin for at least a year.

Lawyers sent word Friday that the hearing was canceled because of illness among some trial participants as well as the discovery by a reporter, who returned to the United States from Guantanamo Bay on Sunday, that he was infected with the virus. The reporter was fully vaccinated.

The naval base in Cuba, with about 6,000 residents and a small hospital, has so far been able to avoid a major coronavirus outbreak through isolation, testing and quarantines. It disclosed two cases in the spring of 2020 before the Pentagon adopted a policy of not reporting case tallies base by base.

Residents have confirmed two known cases on base in September, including a fully vaccinated schoolteacher who was tested positive on his return to Guantanamo the week of Sept. 6.

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