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Guantanamo official defends cell searches amid complaints that private papers were seized


FILE - This June 20, 2013 file photo shows a view inside of open air pen used to confine detainees at Camp X-Ray, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Medical records show an accused terrorist now held at Guantanamo Bay sustained a head injury while he was in CIA custody and has suffered lasting health problems as a result, his lawyer said Oct. 23, 2013.(AP Photo/Bill Gorman, File) (The Associated Press)

A Guantanamo Bay legal official is defending frequent searches of the prison cells of the men charged in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Lawyers for the defendants have accused the government of seizing confidential legal papers without justification. But Navy Cmdr. George Massucco tells a military court that guards in the Camp 7 unit of the prison must review the men's books and documents for their own safety. Massucco says guards in February conducted a search of one cell and found what appeared to be al-Qaida propaganda.

In a search of papers belonging to lead defendant Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he says they found plastic zip-ties that could be considered a potential weapon. His testimony Thursday came during a pretrial hearing in the death penalty case. The hearing ends Friday.