Ghailani's lawyers filed a motion last month to prevent the Bureau of Prisons from performing cavity searches prior to court appearances. A psychologist is expected to testify on May 18 that Ghailani suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, but the trial judge demanded Ghailani's appearance in court today for a competency hearing. He wanted to know whether Ghailani understood that waiving his right to appear at his trial might hamper his own defense.
"He told me it eats his soul. He's terrified of going through it," defense team member Anna Sideris testified today.
Sideris, who meets with Ghailani several times a week, said "he doesn't want to come to court if it means he has to go though that specific search," which was described as "squatting nude and spreading his butt cheeks."
Ghailani appeared to smile nervously as the process was explained.
"Even if it means spending the rest of his life in jail, he doesn't want to go through this," Sideris said.
The judge is expected to rule on the strip search motion after the psychologist's testimony. In court papers, she said nudity is a "trigger" for PTSD he developed thanks to CIA interrogations.
Ghailani was arrested in 2004. He's charged with conspiring with Osama bin Laden and members of al Qaeda in the 1998 bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. His trial is expected to begin in September.