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  • Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is held by the United States at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp since 2006.

    Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is held by the United States at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp since 2006. | Photo: Reuters

Published 29 July 2019

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would agree to testify if the U.S. government decides not to seek the death penalty against him.

The alleged mastermind of Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed indicated through a letter that he would accept to be deposed by victims of the attacks who are suing Saudi Arabia for damages, if the United States drops the capital charges he faces, according to reports published Monday.

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Mohammed’s letter was revealed on Friday by lawyers representing the plaintiffs, including individuals and businesses, seeking billions of dollars in damages. It says that Mohammed is not willing for the moment to testify, but that could change. 

"Counsel stated that 'the primary driver' of this decision is the 'capital nature of the prosecution' and that 'in the absence of a potential death sentence much broader cooperation would be possible'," the letter said.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers have been in contact with the lawyers of five potential witnesses that are detained in federal custody, about their possible availability for depositions. Mohammed and the other Guantanamo detainees have been attending pre-trial hearings in their cases, the letter added.

The lawyers said in the letter that three of them including Mohammed are held in Guantanamo Bay, a U.S. military prison located in Cuba, while the two others are at the "Supermax" maximum-security prison in Florence, Colorado.

James Kreindler, a lawyer who represents the 9/11 victims, said it was unclear how useful Mohammed might be.

“We’re just really leaving no stone unturned,” he stated.

The question remains if U.S. President Donald Trump, who is close to Saudi Arabia's crown, would allow a plea deal for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to be allowed to give new evidence. The Saudi government has for eighteen years disclaimed any involvement in the 2001 attacks. 

The Arab country was relatively protected until the U.S. Senate passed unanimous voice legislation in 2016, allowing survivors of the 2001 attacks and relatives of those killed, to sue it for damages, as part of the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act,” or JASTA bill. 

The bill consisted of removing the sovereign immunity that used to prevent lawsuits against governments, for countries found to be involved in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. ​​​​​​​ Michael Kellogg, a Washington DC-based lawyer for the Saudi government declined to comment.

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