Quarantine Threatens to Again Delay Sept. 11 Proceedings in Guantanamo

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — A key defense lawyer in the long-delayed Sept. 11 attacks proceedings was in quarantine Thursday after he was exposed to the coronavirus, potentially setting back the efforts once again.

Guantánamo, a base of 6,000 residents that sits behind a Cuban minefield, has managed to prevent an outbreak of the virus through quarantine, testing and closures.

But Walter Ruiz, the defense attorney, was with his client, a Saudi prisoner, Mustafa al-Hawsawi, for 90 minutes on Wednesday when guards abruptly ended the meeting. Mr. Ruiz and Mr. Hawsawi were wearing masks, but a medical official ordered Mr. Ruiz confined to his quarters because someone who sat near him on a Navy plane to the base on Tuesday was infected. Mr. Ruiz, who tested negative before and after his arrival, was to be tested again on Friday.

At issue is whether he would be released from quarantine in time for a closed conference Saturday at Guantánamo’s courtroom between the judge, Air Force Col. Matthew McCall, and case lawyers. Prosecutors are seeking the death-penalty in the five-man case and, by law, Mr. Ruiz must be present to represent Mr. al-Hawsawi.

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