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Biden refuses to grant terms 9/11 defendants sought in plea bargains


WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will not approve terms offered by attorneys for 9/11 criminal defendants seeking to enter into a plea deal, a National Security Council spokesman confirmed Wednesday.

The rejected conditions included a presidential guarantee that the five men would not be placed in solitary confinement and would receive treatment for the trauma of their torture in CIA custody.

“The President concurred with the Secretary of Defense’s recommendation not to accept the Common Policy Principles that had been proposed by the 9/11 defendants as the basis for plea negotiations,” the NSC spokesperson wrote to NBC. News.

Biden’s refusal on plea deal safeguards leaves military prosecutors and defense attorneys to try to reach a deal.

Terms still under discussion would allow the five detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to plead guilty and serve life sentences in exchange for being spared the death penalty.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks targeting the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon outside Washington, DC, as well as those aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in a Pennsylvania field.

Lawyers for the five defendants have been exploring a negotiated solution to the case for about a year and a half.

Biden did not consider it appropriate to accept “common political principles” as the basis for a pretrial agreement in what were the deadliest attacks on American soil since the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in 1941, the National Security Council official said.

Among the five defendants is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged architect of the attacks by hijacked commercial airliners.

Lawyers representing Mohammed did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment late Wednesday.

Preliminary hearings for the five defendants have been ongoing at the US military commission at Guantánamo Bay for more than a decade, with no trial date set.

The Office of Military Commissions website outlines the criminal case against Mohammed and others, and documents were filed on Wednesday but were not available for viewing online pending a security review .

Brett Eagleson, whose father was killed in the 2001 attacks, welcomed the administration’s decision.

“We look forward to the day when we can commend our government for finally delivering justice and holding all parties involved in the attacks accountable,” he said in a statement.