The lead prosecutor, Col. Walter H. Foster IV of the Army, asked the panel to issue a harsh sentence. He conceded that Mr. Khan received “extremely rough treatment” in C.I.A. custody but said he was “still alive,” which was “a luxury” that the victims of Qaeda attacks did not have.
The jury foreman, a Navy captain, said in court that he took up the request and drafted it, and all but one officer on the sentencing jury signed it, using their panel member numbers because jurors are granted anonymity at the national security court at Guantánamo. It was addressed to the convening authority of military commissions. An Army colonel, Jeffrey D. Wood of the Arkansas National Guard, currently fills that role as a civilian.
Ian C. Moss, a former Marine who is a civilian lawyer on Mr. Khan’s defense team, called the letter “an extraordinary rebuke.”
“Part of what makes the clemency letter so powerful is that, given the jury members’ seniority, it stands to reason that their military careers have been impacted in direct and likely personal ways by the past two decades of war,” he said.
At no point did the jurors suggest that any of Mr. Khan’s treatment was illegal. Their letter noted that Mr. Khan, who never attained U.S. citizenship, was held as an “alien unprivileged enemy belligerent,” a status that made him eligible for trial by military commission and “not technically afforded the rights of U.S. citizens.”
But, the officers noted, Mr. Khan pleaded guilty, owned his actions and “expressed remorse for the impact of the victims and their families. Clemency is recommended.”
Sentencing was delayed for nearly a decade after his guilty plea to give Mr. Khan time and opportunity to cooperate with federal and military prosecutors, so far behind the scenes, in federal and military terrorism cases. In the intervening years, prosecutors and defense lawyers clashed in court filings over who would be called to testify about Mr. Khan’s abuse in C.I.A. custody, and how.