FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – The lawyer for an Army private facing court-martial after posing for photographs with naked Iraqi prisoners wants the military to let his client return to West Virginia for a weekend visit with her family.
Giorgio Ra'Shadd said Thursday he planned to submit the formal request to military officials at Fort Bragg, where his client, Pfc. Lynndie England, has been stationed since returning from Iraq in March.
Ra'Shadd said he expects the Army to deny the request because the Army hasn't assigned an investigating officer to England's case. She was assigned a military lawyer Thursday, he said.
"Once an IO (investigating officer) is assigned, then a commander is much more likely to consider a leave request," Ra'Shadd said.
Maj. Rich Patterson, a spokesman for the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, declined to comment on the request.
Patterson said England, a 21-year-old reservist from Fort Ashby, W.Va., is not restricted to Fort Bragg and is allowed to travel freely off base as long as she reports for work at her daily duties as "a personnel administrative specialist" with the 16th MP Brigade. The job involves filing paper and computerized forms from soldiers requesting leave or change of duty station, as well as evaluation forms, Patterson said.
"She is doing work commensurate with her rank and her job," Patterson said.
The charges against England stem from photos of her at Abu Ghraib prison smiling and pointing at the genitals of a naked Iraqi prisoner and holding a leash bound around the neck of another. The photos helped touch off a widening probe of the abuse and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners.
England faces a court-martial on charges that include conspiracy to maltreat prisoners and assault consummated by battery. If convicted, she would face punishment ranging from a reprimand to more than 15 years in prison. No hearing date has been set.
England contended in an interview Tuesday with Denver television station KCNC she acted on orders from civilian intelligence officials to pose for the photographs and that she didn't want to appear in the photos.
In an interview Thursday morning on ABC's "Good Morning America," members of England's family also defended her.
Her sister, Jessica Klinestiver, said her sister was unfairly blamed for abuse.
"I am very outraged because that's not like my sister to do anything like that at all," Klinestiver said.
Ra'Shadd wasn't sure if more photos of his client would be released. Six other members of her reserve unit based at Cresaptown, Md., also have been charged in the abuse of prisoners.
England, who is five months pregnant, planned to return to West Virginia to give birth to her child, Ra'Shadd said. She intended to leave the military around October when her enlistment ended.