A decorated Navy SEAL facing a court-martial for allegedly stabbing a teenage ISIS prisoner to death in Iraq and shooting at Iraqi civilians was temporarily released by a military judge Thursday.
It is the latest development in a case that has been bogged down in politics and accusations of prosecutorial misconduct.
Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, based in San Diego, made no public comments as he was ordered released pending the resumption of his trial, now scheduled for June 10, the San Diego Union Tribune reported.
Gallagher was allowed to go home to his family because prosecutors are accused of multiple misdeeds, including putting tracking software on emails they sent to defense lawyers and to at least one news reporter covering the case, the newspaper reported.
The Associated Press reported that prosecutors explained the move at an earlier hearing. Cmdr. Christopher Czaplak said the email code noted only where and when messages were opened.
Czaplak said the activity stopped May 10, according to the Associated Press, after defense lawyers confronted him about an odd logo of an American flag with a bald eagle on the scales of justice in an email signature. He confirmed the email effort in a hearing out of the public eye three weeks ago.
On Thursday, Czaplak defended the emails, saying the activity was akin to what marketers use to see when an email is opened and what device was utilized in the process.
Defense attorneys countered that “it’s still unethical,” the Associated Press noted.
Gallagher, a 19-year Navy veteran, is charged with premeditated murder and aggravated assault.
During an Article 32 hearing in November, Navy prosecutors accused Gallagher of killing an injured ISIS fighter who they estimate was about 15 years old. The fatal stabbing happened in Mosul. Iraq, in May 2017.
Prosecutors also presented evidence that they said shows Gallagher tried to bribe fellow SEALs not to talk about the incident to NCIS investigators.
Gallagher has denied all the charges. His attorney, Phil Stackhouse, has said that disgruntled SEALs made the allegations. Rep. Duncan Hunter has taken up Gallagher’s cause.
The judge, Navy Capt. Aaron Rugh, was expected to hear matters related to the accusations against prosecutors on Friday.
– City News Service and staff reports
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