updated 7/31/2008 10:42:04 AM ET 2008-07-31T14:42:04

A U.S. military judge ruled Thursday that prosecutors can use a disputed interrogation to support their case against a former driver for Osama bin Laden in the first Guantanamo war crimes trial.

Lawyers for Salim Hamdan said the May 2003 interrogation, in which prosecutors say he swore allegiance to bin Laden, was not reliable and should not be admitted into evidence.

The judge, Navy Capt. Keith Allred, did not immediately release his ruling and did not explain his reasoning in open court.

Allred's ruling cleared the way for Robert McFadden, an agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, to describe the interrogation to jurors as the final prosecution witness.

Hamdan, a Yemeni, faces up to life in prison if convicted of conspiracy and aiding terrorism.

Islamic oath?
McFadden, one of nearly a dozen interrogators to testify at the trial, says Hamdan swore an Islamic oath, or "bayat," to the al-Qaida chief.

"Mr. Hamdan said he was convinced by the need for seeking jihad," he said.

The reliability of his testimony was fiercely contested by defense lawyers, who say Hamdan was a low-level bin Laden employee who never joined his terrorist network. Hamdan took the witness stand Wednesday and denied telling McFadden that he pledged allegiance to bin Laden.

Defense lawyers have said Hamdan made the statements to McFadden and other agents under the effects of abuse including sleep deprivation, solitary confinement and sexual humiliation.

McFadden said Hamdan never complained of abuse to him and appeared to enjoy their conversation.

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