The US to Badreddine’s Lawyer: Be Our Spy

Al-Akhbar is currently going through a transitional phase whereby the English website is available for Archival purposes only. All new content will be published in Arabic on the main website (www.al-akhbar.com).

Al-Akhbar Management

The four are accused of involvement in the 14 February 2005 attack that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others. The tribunal is viewed with suspicion among many Lebanese who suspect the US, France and other major powers of using the investigation as a political tool.

By: Omar Nashabe

Published Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Washington grants an American defense lawyer for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon an exemption from sanctions so that he can do his job, but only if he agrees to spy on his client.

Beirut - On September 20, Washington hurriedly granted permission to American co-counsel John Jones allowing him to continue defending Mustafa Badreddine at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) investigating Hariri’s assassination.

The US had imposed sanctions against Badreddine, penalizing anyone who provides him with assistance, and therefore had to make a formal exemption for his lawyer in the form of a license to defend him.

This license, however, is subject to conditions imposed by the US administration that would constitute a major violation of attorney-client privilege.

The license involves instructions to Jones to pass on to Washington any information it requests concerning Badreddine. In other words, Jones is being forced by US authorities to spy on his own client.

The license, dated 20 September 2012, reads, “The licensee shall furnish and make available for inspection any relevant information or reports requested by the secretary of the treasury or any other duly authorized officer or agency.”

Badreddine’s lead defense lawyer, Antoine Korkmaz, confirmed to Al-Akhbar that US authorities had set conditions on his colleague’s work, but refused to comment further. When asked if Jones will continue in his role, Korkmaz said that Jones had decided to “suspend his work,” which will likely delay the preparations for the trial.

The US is seeking the arrest of Badreddine, who is in hiding after the STL issued warrants against him and three other alleged Hezbollah members in June of 2011. The men are scheduled to be tried in absentia on March, 2013.

The four are accused of involvement in the 14 February 2005 attack that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others. The tribunal is viewed with suspicion among many Lebanese who suspect the US, France and other major powers of using the investigation as a political tool.

The licence US authorities granted Badreddine’s attorney exempts him from sanctions on the condition that he provide the US treasury or any other body or agency, at their request, with reports and information.

These conditions are in direct violation of the oath Jones made before the registrar of the international tribunal to “scrupulously respect professional confidentiality and the other duties imposed by the Code of Professional Conduct for Counsel Appearing Before the Tribunal.”

Moreever, he signed a written version of this pledge, which was maintained on record by the registry of the tribunal.

The Code of Professional Conduct for Counsel was issued on 28 February 2011 and signed by the former president of the STL, the late Judge Antonio Cassisi. It reads: “Counsel shall preserve the professional confidentiality of client communications and protect the confidentiality of evidence and proceedings identified as such by the Tribunal. Unless otherwise provided by the relevant Chamber, Counsel may only disclose confidential evidence to others who are ethically or contractually bound to protect its confidentiality and only when necessary for investigations or case preparation” (Section 5).

It appears that the US decision to interfere in the defense is going to delay the trial, tentatively scheduled for 25 March 2013.

Al-Akhbar has learned that the defense counsel is preparing to submit a request to the pre-trial judge to postpone the trial date as the lawyers study their options.

STL spokesperson Martin Youssef, told Al-Akhbar that he had not seen Jones’ license and was therefore unaware of any conditions contained therein.

This latest revelation follows the US’ decision to designate Badreddine as a terrorist and impose sanctions against him, a move that was condemned by the STL Defense Office as a blatant attempt to prejudice the judiciary against the defendant before the start of the trial.

Youssef defended the integrity of the tribunal to the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar, saying: “The designation of Badreddine as a terrorist by the US does not affect the trial before the tribunal. What the US says has nothing to do with the trial.”

In a follow-up with Al-Akhbar, Youssef emphasized once again the judiciary’s impartiality.

“International judges are immune to such pressures,” Youssef said. “I recall that Naser Oric, who was sanctioned by the US department of treasury, was acquitted before the International Criminal Tribunal of the Former Yugoslavia, even though he was designated a war criminal, and Jones was his counsel.”

Youssef could not, however, answer as to whether or not Jones was subject to the same conditions by his government at the time.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><img><h1><h2><h3><h4><h5><h6><blockquote><span><aside>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

^ Back to Top