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Green Beret charged with murder urges military to dismiss case

Army Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn calls the case against him a "miscarriage of justice."
Mathew Golsteyn
U.S. Army Major Mathew Golsteyn, pictured here as a captain, is congratulated by fellow soldiers following the Valor Awards ceremony at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on Jan 4., 2011.James Robinson / The Fayetteville Observer via AP file

WASHINGTON — A decorated Green Beret charged with committing premeditated murder while deployed in Afghanistan has asked the Army dismiss his case, accusing the military's justice system of "questionable conduct" and manipulating evidence against him.

Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, in a letter Friday to the commanding general of the Army Special Operations Aviation Command, wrote that the handling of his case has been "a miscarriage of justice."

"There is no question that the charge of premeditated murder grossly misrepresents my conduct in Afghanistan and exposes me to the death penalty for serving this nation in accordance with the requirements of my mission," Golsteyn wrote. "The military justice system has been compromised in my case."

He added that failing to dismiss the premeditated murder charge "would reflect your tacit approval for the misuse of the military justice system and the questionable conduct by military lawyers and investigators." Golsteyn set a deadline of five business days for a response, adding that he would then appeal to a general higher up.

A spokesman for U.S. Special Operations Command, Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, said Golsteyn's request was under review but that "until further notice the Article 32 preliminary hearing is still scheduled for March 14, 2019, at Fort Bragg, N.C."

Golsteyn is accused of fatally shooting an Afghan man, who he suspected was a bombmaker, on Feb. 22, 2010, near Forward Operating base McQuery in Marjah, Afghanistan.

According to military documents, the Afghan man had been taken into custody over suspicions that he was responsible for planting explosives that killed two Marines days earlier. The man was ultimately released, but he was killed sometime afterward, according to the documents.

Golsteyn was charged with premeditated murder nearly nine years later, in December 2018. A spokesperson for U.S. Army Special Operations Command said at the time that "Golsteyn's immediate commander has determined that sufficient evidence exists to warrant" the charge against him.

Gasteyn's letter focuses on the way investigators used the account he provided during a CIA polygraph test when he was applying for a job with the spy agency in 2011.

That disclosure during the polygraph prompted the Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) to launch an investigation into Golsteyn in late 2011.

In April 2014, Golsteyn received an official reprimand for his actions, but no formal charges were filed at the time due to a lack of physical evidence, military officials said. In 2016, Golsteyn appeared on FOX News and admitted to killing the Afghan man. The interview brought new attention to his case.

Golsteyn was charged with premeditated murder in December. President Donald Trump later tweeted that he would review the case, referring to Golsteyn as a "U.S. military hero."

In Friday's letter, Golsteyn argued that military investigators have misrepresented his statements during his CIA polygraph.

Specifically, he said the CID report misquoted him as saying he and another individual "took the Afghan in question to his home and assassinated him." He maintains that he never said he took the Afghan man to his home or that he assassinated him.

Golsteyn also appeared to question the motivations of investigators.

"It has been and continues to be difficult to comprehend the motivation behind the government's actions and identify the government's desired outcome in my case," he wrote.