Navy SEAL pleads not guilty to charge of killing wounded ISIS fighter

A Navy SEAL will be arraigned in San Diego on Friday after being charged with alleged violations of military law during his deployment to the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2017.

SAN DIEGO  — A decorated Navy SEAL is facing charges of premeditated murder and other crimes in the stabbing death of a 15-year-old Islamic State prisoner under his care in Iraq last year and the shooting of unarmed Iraqi civilians.

Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher planned to plead not guilty to all the charges Friday during an arraignment hearing at Naval Base San Diego, his attorney, Phil Stackhouse, said.

Gallagher faces a slew of accusations connected to violations of military law while he was deployed to the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2017.

Among the accusations against Gallagher are that he stabbed and killed a wounded person, shot at noncombatants, posed for a photo and performed his re-enlistment ceremony next to a corpse, according to a charge sheet from November.

Part of Friday’s hearing was concerned with whether he would be let out of military prison until the start of his two-week trial, scheduled to begin on February 19.

Two Navy SEALs testified on Gallagher’s behalf, praising his character and telling the court that he would not be a flight risk if he was allowed out of the brig before his trial begins.

Gallagher is detained at the Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in San Diego.

“I’d like to have him on the battleground on any given day,” one of the SEALs said.

Cmdr. Tamara Lawrence, public affairs officer with the Naval Special Warfare Command, previously said the Navy was taking the allegations seriously.

“We train and operate in dynamic, complex and ambiguous environments and our operators are empowered and trusted to independently make difficult decisions during missions,” Lawrence said in a statement.

“They have consistently proven that their empowerment and trust is warranted. Allegations that indicate otherwise are, and will continue to be, investigated by the appropriate military and law enforcement authorities.”

Gallagher being ‘demonized,’ supporter says

The charge sheet said that Gallagher “did … with premeditation, murder a wounded male person” under his care by “stabbing him in the neck and body with a knife” while battling ISIS in Mosul in May 2017.

He is charged with shooting at a male and female noncombatant near Mosul in June and July of 2017, respectively, and is also charged with wrongfully retaliating against and “attempting to discourage members of his platoon from reporting his actions while in Iraq” when he and his unit were back in San Diego.

Additionally the Navy has charged Gallagher with “wrongfully” posing for an unofficial picture “with a human casualty” and wrongfully completing his reenlistment ceremony next to a human casualty.

Walking into court at the Naval Base San Diego on Friday, Gallagher’s wife Andrea told CNN, “This is a travesty of justice and it needs to be righted.”

A group of Gallagher’s supporters gathered outside the courthouse of the San Diego Naval Base on Friday. Many of them wear shirts that read, “Free Eddie,” with an American flag on the sleeve.

“We want to drive home our belief in Eddie’s overall innocence and the fact that he’s being persecuted as a good man,” said Aaron Kahn, who told CNN he’s a friend of Gallagher’s and visits him every Sunday at a military prison.

“Eddie’s being demonized and not characterized as a good human being,” Kahn said, “and his 19 1/2 years of service has been … dismissed and not appreciated by the American public and government.”

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