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Navy SEAL charged with Iraq war crimes also under investigation in death of Afghan civilian in 2010

Andrew Dyer, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in News & Features

A Navy SEAL awaiting trial for alleged war crimes in Iraq in 2017 also is being investigated in the shooting death of an Afghan civilian in 2010, according to his defense attorney, who complained to the judge about the investigation last week.

The attorney said during the SEAL's court-martial last week that he suspects Navy officials were leaking information about the investigation to the media.

Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward R. Gallagher, 39, is awaiting a military trial in San Diego on a charge of premeditated murder for allegedly killing a wounded ISIS fighter in 2017 and on charges of aggravated assault connected to the shooting of two Iraqi civilians and other related charges.

He has pleaded not guilty and denies all those charges. His case has gained national interest, with President Donald Trump recently ordering a less restrictive pre-trial confinement for him.

Gallagher's lead defense attorney, New York-based Timothy Parlatore, argued at a hearing at Naval Base San Diego last week that the government has been leaking information to the media about an investigation into a 2010 shooting of a goat herder in Afghanistan. Gallagher has not been charged in that case.

The judge in Gallagher's court-martial, Navy Capt. Aaron Rugh, ruled on Jan. 25 that other allegations involving Gallagher -- including the alleged incident in Afghanistan -- would not be admissible in his murder trial. He also imposed a protective order over investigative documents and evidence in the case.

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Details of the 2010 shooting are laid out in a Naval Criminal Investigative Service summary report covered by that protective order. Part of the report was obtained by The San Diego Union-Tribune, with other details confirmed by Parlatore in response to questions about the allegations against Gallagher.

According to the NCIS investigative file discussed at multiple court hearings, several members of Gallagher's platoon told Navy investigators that Gallagher had routinely bragged about killing people -- in and out of battle -- including that Gallagher allegedly said he got away with shooting the goat herder in Afghanistan.

Some of those SEALs said they dismissed those claims as embellishments, if not outright fabrications, the report says.

Gallagher's defense attorneys also have said they believe some of the witnesses lied to investigators or have changed their stories.

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