(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Trump repeatedly calls for NYC terrorist to get death penalty, and critics aren’t pleased

After pledging to ship Sayfullo Saipov to Guantanamo Bay, Trump changes course and publicly calls for his execution


Charlie May
November 2, 2017 3:39PM (UTC)

President Donald Trump explicitly called for the alleged perpetrator of Tuesday's Manhattan terror attack to be sent to Guantanamo Bay, only to walk back his threats later and demand the assailant be executed instead.

"I would certainly consider this. I would certainly consider that, sending him to Gitmo," Trump said at the White House, of the terrorist, Sayfullo Saipov, on Wednesday, Salon reported. "We need quick justice and we need strong justice. What we have right now is a joke and it’s a laughingstock. [The U.S. needs] punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now."

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Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., despite his ongoing public spats with the president, echoed his calls and said Saipov doesn't deserve his Miranda rights.

But in a series of tweets, Trump walked back his call to send Saipov to Guantanamo Bay. Tribunals at the U.S. military prison were ruled illegal in 2006 under U.S. law and Geneva conventions.

"NYC terrorist was happy as he asked to hang ISIS flag in his hospital room. He killed 8 people, badly injured 12. SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!" Trump tweeted Thursday morning.

"Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system," he added.  

"There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!"

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Trump's flip-flop on what to do with the terrorist has riled journalists and civil rights supporters, who say that Trump is harming the defendant's right to have a fair trial.  

But Trump's change of mind may be a surprise to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who implied that he would be considering shipping the terrorist to Guantanamo Bay.

"This week’s deadly incident, the deadliest attack in New York since 9/11, is another reminder of the dangerous threats we face from radical Islamic terrorism and the kind of threats we’re seeing nationwide," Sessions said on Thursday morning.

He added, "Terrorists should know this: This administration will use all lawful tools at our disposal, including prosecution in Article III courts and at Guantanamo Bay."

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The military prison has long been the center of controversy, torture and a place where individual rights are nonexistent. Guantanamo Bay military tribunals reached their first conviction without a plea deal since 2008 on Wednesday, according to the Daily Beast.

The person convicted was "a one-star Marine general sticking up for the rights of the accused to have a fair trial."

Brigadier General John Baker was sentenced to 21 days of confinement after he defended the right of attorneys for detainees to be free from government surveillance.

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"The military commissions are willing to put people in jail for defending the rule of law," Jay Connell who represents another Guantanamo detainee, told the Daily Beast. "If they’re willing to put a Marine general in jail for standing up for a client’s rights, they’re willing to do just anything."


Charlie May

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay

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