Military Panel Convicts Osama bin Laden's Former Driver

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A panel of six military officers Wednesday convicted a former driver for Osama bin Laden of providing material support for terrorism, but acquitted him of a conspiracy charge, arguably the more serious of the two charges he faced in the first military commission trial here.

The former driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who has said he is about 40, faces a possible life term, a sentence that will be determined in a proceeding that was scheduled to begin Wednesday afternoon.

As the verdict was read, Hamdan, who has been in U.S. custody since he was seized in Afghanistan in November 2001, stood passively at the defense table in a white headscarf, his head bent slightly down.

The conviction of Hamdan, a Yemeni who was part of a select group of drivers and bodyguards for bin Laden until 2001, was a long-sought, if somewhat qualified, victory for the Bush administration, which had been working to begin military commission trials at the isolated naval base here for nearly seven years. It was also the first war-crimes trial conducted by the United States since the end of World War II.

Hamdan was convicted by six senior military officers who, the military judge ordered, could not be identified publicly. The officers deliberated for eight hours over three days. As permitted under a law passed by the U.S. Congress in 2006 for trials at Guantánamo Bay, the trial included secret evidence and testimony in a closed courtroom...

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