An inmate at Guantanamo Bay has admitted helping al-Qa'ida plot attacks from his native Pakistan, in the first plea deal by one of the so-called "high value" detainees at the US base in Cuba.
Majid Khan's lawyers said the deal, which limits his sentence, could put him and his family in jeopardy. The agreement means Khan, 32, can serve no more than 25 years in prison.
But he is required to co-operate with military prosecutors as they build cases against other prisoners, a fact that defence lawyers wanted kept confidential. Wells Dixon, one of his civilian lawyers, said Khan, a former Maryland resident, feared for the safety of family members in the United States and abroad. "There is a specific, historical basis for the concern," he told the judge in arguing to keep the pre-trial agreement sealed.
The military judge, Army Colonel James Pohl, rejected the request, saying the fact that he had agreed to co-operate was already in the public domain. Khan is the seventh Guantanamo prisoner to be convicted of war crimes and is considered the most significant. He is the first prisoner who was held in the top-secret section of the US base known as Camp 7 to plead guilty.
Prosecutors said Khan plotted with the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 11 September attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to blow up fuel tanks in the US, to assassinate former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and to provide other assistance to al-Qa'ida.
Khan moved to the US in 1996 and was granted political asylum.