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Military judge releases Navy SEAL accused of murder before his trial

Posted at 5:42 PM, May 30, 2019

SAN DIEGO (AP) - A military judge has released a Navy SEAL from custody in advance of his murder trial in the death of an Islamic State prisoner.

Capt. Aaron Rugh said Thursday that he was freeing Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher as a remedy for interference by prosecutors.

Defense lawyers accuse the prosecutors of misconduct for an effort to track defense lawyers' emails that they say violated attorney-client privilege.

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Rugh said Thursday he knew Navy investigators were trying to find the source of leaked court documents, but did not know of or approve any email tracking.

Defense lawyers say the move amounted to prosecutorial misconduct and they want charges against Gallagher dismissed or prosecutors removed from the case.

A military prosecutor downplayed the tracking effort, saying it did nothing more than record information on where and when emails were opened by recipients.

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Defense lawyer Tim Parlatore withdrew his motion to have the judge removed from the case after learning Rugh was kept in the dark about what prosecutors did.

Gallagher will be freed as his lawyers continue to argue that the case be dismissed. He is scheduled to face trial June 10.

There were gasps in the courtroom as Rugh made the announcement. Gallagher's wife put her head in her hands and burst into tears.