- A Navy SEAL who testified against Chief Edward Gallagher in a war-crimes trial condemned President Donald Trump’s interference in Gallagher’s case in an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune.
- “When you look at politicians getting involved in military justice – whether it’s a congressman from San Diego or the president – with their involvement, it isn’t justice,” the SEAL said. “It’s political, when shooting civilians and executing prisoners shouldn’t be.”
- Gallagher was charged with war crimes after he was accused by fellow SEALs of stabbing a young ISIS fighter to death in US and shooting at civilians, including women and children.
- Gallagher was cleared of all but one charge by a military jury in July, and Trump intervened to restore his rank in November.
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One SEAL who testified against Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher during his trial criticised Trump and other politicians, including Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, for intervening in the case.
“When you look at politicians getting involved in military justice – whether it’s a congressman from San Diego or the president – with their involvement, it isn’t justice,” the SEAL, who was granted anonymity because he feared for his safety, said in a Tuesday interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune. “It’s political, when shooting civilians and executing prisoners shouldn’t be.”
Gallagher was charged with several crimes, including murder, after fellow SEALs accused him of stabbing to death a young ISIS fighter who his platoon had captured and medically stabilised. Gallagher then posed with the dead teenager, holding him up by his hair.
His platoon also accused him of targeting civilians, including women and children, while shooting from sniper nests in Mosul.
Seven of the 22 SEALS in Gallagher’s platoon testified against him. Gallagher has denied the charges and said the allegations were “blatant lies” made up by unhappy members of the platoon in an effort to force him out.
This week, The New York Times released videos of members of Gallagher’s SEAL platoon describing his alleged crimes to Navy investigators in shocking and sometimes emotional interviews. The Times obtained thousands of text messages between the SEALs and hours of video recordings of the investigators’ interviews.
“The guy is freaking evil, man,” Special Operator First Class Craig Miller said in the video.
“You could tell he was perfectly ok with killing anybody that was moving,” Special Operator First Class Corey Scott said.
Trump intervened even before the start of Gallagher’s trial, which was also marred by prosecutorial misconduct. In July, Gallagher was acquitted on all counts except for one minor charge of posing for a celebratory photo with the captive’s corpse.
Last month, Trump intervened again to overturn Gallagher’s demotion, restoring his rank. Gallagher retired at the beginning of December.
Earlier this week, Trump invited Gallagher and his wife to Trump’s Florida resort, where Gallagher gave the president and first lady what appeared to be a black-and-white ISIS flag captured in Iraq.
Sarah Grey and Ellen Ioanes contributed to this report.