U.S. Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher is facing war crimes charges related to allegations that he killed a wounded ISIS prisoner-of-war in 2017.
But Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), himself a U.S. Marine combat veteran, says that helmet camera footage exonerates Gallagher. Hunter said he will ask President Donald Trump to issue a pardon should Gallagher still be found guilty by the court.
Helmet cam footage
“This is the smoking gun, and there’s no gun whatsoever,” Hunter told reporters after watching the video, which has not yet been released to the public. “By looking at the videos, by looking at the pictures, there was no stabbing. No one got stabbed with a knife. You have an ISIS combatant who died from his injuries.”
Hunter told reporters that he believes Gallagher is not only innocent, but a war hero. The military justice system prosecuting Gallagher is “rigged” and “absolutely broken,” he said.
“I don’t trust the Navy to give him a fair trial, but I think with all of the focus on this case that he stands more of a chance of getting a fair trial now, Hunter said.
Accused of murder
Navy prosecutors accuse Gallagher of not only murdering the wounded Islamic State captive near Mosul, Iraq, but also of posing for pictures and holding an impromptu re-enlistment ceremony over the corpse. On top of that, he also stands accused of firing at civilians
Gallagher, who served eight tours of duty overseas over his 20-year Navy career, has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.
Defense attorneys say that the charges were concocted by disgruntled fellow SEALs who didn’t like Gallagher as their platoon leader.
Gallagher’s wife and brother echoed those concerns, telling Fox 5 in January, “The malicious and slanderous lies emanate from two people that we know. We know who they are. We know why they’re telling these stories.”
Trump weighs in
In response to concerns from numerous lawmakers about the manner in which Gallagher was being held in confinement, Trump tweeted in March, “In honor of his past service to our Country, Navy Seal #EddieGallagher will soon be moved to less restrictive confinement while he awaits his day in court. Process should move quickly!”
Soon after the president’s tweet, Gallagher was moved out of the brig at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and allowed more freedom on the base. Gallagher is set to stand trial on May 28 at Naval Base San Diego.
On Monday, the White House announced that Trump pardoned another U.S. soldier, former Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, who had served five years in prison after being convicted of killing a captive terrorist in Iraq in 2009.