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Navy lawyer may do time for naming detainees

/ Source: The Associated Press

A military jury recommended Friday that a Navy lawyer be discharged and imprisoned for six months for sending a human rights attorney the names of 550 Guantanamo Bay detainees.

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Diaz was convicted Thursday of communicating secret information about Guantanamo Bay detainees that could be used to injure the United States and three other charges of leaking information to an unauthorized person.

The jury of seven Navy officers recommended that Diaz receive his pay and benefits while incarcerated, but the sentence must be approved by Rear Adm. Rick Ruehe. The dismissal will also be reviewed by a military appellate court, the Navy said.

Diaz, who could have received up to 14 years in prison, gave emotional testimony during the sentencing hearing, apologizing for his actions.

"The prosecutors were right: I'm a meticulous man. I should have done better. It was extremely irrational for me to do what I did," Diaz said.

After the first day of his trial Monday, Diaz had told The Dallas Morning News he felt sending the list — which was inside an unmarked Valentine's Day card — was the right decision because of how the detainees were being treated.

"My oath as a commissioned officer is to the Constitution of the United States," Diaz said. "I'm not a criminal."

In early 2005, as he was concluding a six-month tour of duty as a legal adviser at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Diaz sent an anonymous note to a New York civil liberties group containing the detainees' names.

The Center for Constitutional Rights earlier had won a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that terrorism suspects had the right to challenge their detention. But the Pentagon was refusing to identify the men, hampering the group's effort to represent them.

"I had observed the stonewalling, the obstacles we continued to place in the way of the attorneys," Diaz told the newspaper. "I knew my time was limited. ... I had to do something."

Diaz said he now believes it was "cowardly" to release the names and other identifying information in that manner.

Diaz, 41, of Topeka, Kan., did not testify in the court-martial.