FORT MEADE, Md. — A Saudi man accused of helping to plot Al Qaeda’s attack on the USS Cole in 2000 told a military commission judge at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Wednesday that he would boycott his case if military guards force him to wear chains as a condition of coming to court.
The defendant, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, stood at a desk to deliver a monologue several minutes long about what he portrayed as bad treatment and unnecessarily aggressive security measures by prison guards. An uncomfortable car used to transport him to the court made him vomit, he said, and belly chains hurt his bad back.
‘‘I intend to attend all future session,’’ Nashiri said. ‘‘But if the guards do not treat me better, I have the right not to come. And let the world know that the judge sentenced me to death because I didn’t show up to court due to chains.’’
Nashiri had decided to stay in his cell Tuesday, during the first day of a pretrial motions hearing that was held at Guantanamo and shown to reporters here in suburban Maryland. He was forced to attend Wednesday by the judge, Colonel James Pohl of the Army, for the purpose of being told in person that he had the right not to attend sessions but that doing so could damage his defense.
Prosecutors have sought to compel Nashiri’s attendance, lest his absence from the trial raise a question about its fairness that could become the basis for an appeal after any conviction. Nashiri’s lawyers have argued that their client was tortured by the CIA in ways that make the security steps associated with involuntarily attendance — like forced cell extractions — damaging to their client’s mental and physical health, and have asked for a medical evaluation.
The Cole bombing, off the shore of Aden, Yemen, in 2000, killed 17 American soldiers. Nashiri is among several accused planners of the attack. He was captured in 2002 and held in secret overseas CIA ‘‘black site’’ prisons until 2006, when he was transferred to military custody at Guantanamo Bay.
Defense lawyers also sought intelligence about Abu Ali al-Harithi, a Yemeni man who was killed by a drone strike in 2002 and who has also been described as a planner of the Cole attack. Prosecutors said they were turning over all Cole data.