May 11, 2007 / 12:39 AM / in 10 years

Pentagon charges Hamdan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Thursday charged Salim Ahmed Hamdan, the Guantanamo prisoner whose lawsuit derailed the Bush administration’s original terror trial plan, with conspiracy and material support for terrorism.

<p>In this courtroom illustration, Salim Ahmed Hamdan (L) appears with appointed council Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift (2nd-L) during a preliminary hearing held on the Naval Base at Guantanamo Naval Base August 24, 2004. The Pentagon on Thursday charged Hamdan, the Guantanamo prisoner whose lawsuit derailed the Bush administration's original terror trial plan, with conspiracy and material support for terrorism. REUTERS/POOL/Illustration by Art Lein</p>

The Defense Department said Hamdan served as Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard and driver and that he transported and delivered weapons and other supplies to al Qaeda members and associates.

The Pentagon, in charging documents, also accused Hamdan of receiving weapons training in Afghanistan.

Under the original military tribunal system, which the White House was forced to overhaul following Hamdan’s legal challenge and landmark Supreme Court ruling, Hamdan faced a single charge of conspiracy.

Hamdan denies being a member of al Qaeda, and the Supreme Court said in its ruling that the allegations against him -- driving bin Laden, delivering ammunition and acting as a bodyguard -- were not war crimes, his military lawyer said.

“The government has chosen right off the bat to thumb its nose at the Supreme Court,” said the lawyer, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift.

Swift also argued the charges were not legitimate under the new military trial system Congress authorized last year because the law cannot be applied retroactively.

“Mr. Hamdan was not the mastermind of al Qaeda. He was the driver,” Swift said.

Hamdan’s military commission will be formed within 120 days. His arraignment at Guantanamo has been scheduled for June 4, according to a defense official.

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