December 23, 2009
NORFOLK, Va. -- A third Navy SEAL charged with not stopping the alleged abuse of an Iraqi detainee pleaded not guilty Tuesday to two misdemeanors and asked to be tried by a military jury.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Keefe, of Yorktown, faces charges of lying to investigators and dereliction of duty for failing to safeguard Ahmed Hashim Abed -- a man the military describes as "a suspected Iraqi terrorist' captured by U.S. forces in September. Abed is thought to have been involved with the killing of four U.S. civilian contractors in 2004.
Keefe, 25, told Cmdr. Tierney Carlos, a military judge, that he wants a jury made up of at least one-third enlisted sailors, as is his right under rules for military courts-martial.
Keefe's lawyer, Gregory McCormack, requested a delay because the government has been slow to produce evidence against Keefe. Carlos scheduled the court-martial to begin April 6. Although the case is being handled locally, the decision to press charges was made by Army Maj. Gen. C.T. Cleveland, head of Special Operations Command Central.
Like Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe and Petty Officer 1st Class Julio
Huertas, arraigned on related charges earlier this month, Keefe could have accepted administrative punishment for his actions but instead chose to fight the charges. If convicted, the SEALs could face a year in the brig, demotion in rank and a bad-conduct discharge.