US NAVAL BASE AT GUANTANAMO BAY (Cuba) - A military judge ordered the US government Thursday to stop censoring September 11 pre-trial hearings from outside his courtroom.
Judge James Pohl said the government must "disconnect the outside feed or ability to suspend the broadcast" from outside his court.
Proceedings are heard in the press room, and in a room where human rights groups and victims’ families sit, with a 40 second delay. This is done so that a security officer sitting next to the judge can block anything deemed classified.
The ruling Thursday means censoring can go on, but it cannot be activated from outside the courtroom.
Thursday was the last day of the latest session of pre-trial hearings. The five defendants, including self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, were not present.
On Monday part of the proceedings were censored when the discussion touched on secret CIA prisons where the suspects were held and abused.
The judge said he was surprised and angry that the censoring mechanism was activated from outside the court, without his knowledge.
This must stop, Pohl said, adding that "the judge and only the judge" can decide what happens in his courtroom.
The 9/11 trial at this US base on the southeastern tip of Cuba is not expected to start for at least a year.
The five men accused of plotting the suicide airliner attacks against the Twin Towers and the Pentagon face the death penalty if convicted. The attacks left nearly 3,000 people dead.