- Rep. Duncan Hunter has called for President Donald Trump to intervene for a Navy SEAL chief being held in pre-trial confinement for the alleged murder of a wounded IS fighter.
- Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher is awaiting court-martial for charges that he stabbed the 15-year-old in the neck while the fighter was being treated.
- Hunter, a Marine veteran, visited Gallagher in the brig at Miramar, California, which he says is “not an appropriate venue for an American war hero.”
- Hunter has requested that the White House intervene to find nicer arrangements for the SEAL while he awaits court-martial.
- A military judge denied Gallagher’s request to be released from pre-trial confinement on Thursday.
Rep. Duncan Hunter is asking President Donald Trump to intervene on behalf of a Navy SEAL currently awaiting court-martial for alleged war crimes stemming from the 2017 killing of a wounded Islamic State fighter.
Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher was arrested September 11, 2018 and has been held in pre-trial confinement while he awaits court-martial. Hunter, a California Republican and Marine veteran, visited Gallagher in the brig at Miramar, California, where he is being held.
After the visit, Hunter sent a letter to Trump, calling for the president to intervene on Gallagher’s behalf. The congressman wrote that the brig is “not an appropriate venue for an American war hero.”
According to Hunter, Gallagher’s children must wear hospital gowns during visits so as not to attract attention from other prisoners, who the congressman says are mostly convicted sex offenders. Hunter also argues that pre-trial confinement has infringed on Gallagher’s right to a fair and speedy trial.
The congressman says Gallagher could not meet with his initial representation for eight weeks, and that his current attorneys face barriers when attempting to contact and meet with their client.
“A Navy SEAL with eight combat deployments and two Bronze Stars with Valor deserves better,” Hunter wrote.
In a statement to The San Diego Union-Tribune, a spokeswoman for Navy Personnel Command said that “excessively tight or revealing clothing” would violate the brig’s dress code for visitation, but did not comment on Hunter’s statement.
Prosecutors say that during a deployment in Iraq, the SEAL stabbed a 15-year-old IS militant in the neck while he was being treated for wounds sustained in an air strike. The SEAL then allegedly conducted a reenlistment ceremony next to the body and posed for photographs while he held the dead fighter’s head.
Charges also include obstruction of justice for alleged attempts to blackmail fellow SEALs. Prosecutors say the SEAL threatened to publicly disclose the names of colleagues who cooperated with investigators, which he ascertained through initials found on warrants used to search his home.
Gallagher has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His attorneys maintain the charges stem from hearsay, and the allegations products of embittered junior SEALs with a vendetta against the chief.
Gallagher’s court-martial is scheduled to begin February 19. A military judge determined Thursday that the SEAL will remain in pre-trial confinement.
“Congressman Hunter calls on the President to personally review the situation in the hope that the White House will assist in Chief Gallagher’s removal from the Miramar Brig, providing for a more suitable arrangement to be put into place,” Hunter said in a Wednesday press release.
Hunter has used similar arguments of politicization within the justice system to defend against his own indictment.
The congressman and his wife face charges of misusing $250,000 in campaign funds for a wide range of personal expenses, including vacations, groceries, and meals. The Department of Justice indictment says the couple hid their spending by filing the expenses as gifts for wounded veterans.
“This is modern politics and modern media, mixed in with law enforcement that has a political agenda,” Hunter told ABC News affiliate KGTV in August. He and his wife have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
- Read more about Rep. Duncan Hunter:
- Rep. Duncan Hunter indicted for allegedly using campaign funds to pay for vacations and other personal expenses
- ‘If traveling was free you’d never see me again’: Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife allegedly played the military card to score freebies using campaign funds