A Navy SEAL charged with murder in the stabbing of an injured Iraqi war prisoner is no longer being held in the brig at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, just 15 hours after President Donald Trump announced the move in a tweet.
Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher was moved from the brig to the barracks at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, according to his attorney, Phil Stackhouse.
A Navy spokesperson confirmed the move was to take place by the end of the day Saturday.
In Trump’s tweet, the president said the move was in honor of Gallagher’s past service to the country.
The tweet came after 18 Republican members of the U.S. House sent a letter to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer raising concerns about the conditions of Gallagher’s confinement at a Navy brig in California.
Gallagher is accused of killing a teenage Islamic State fighter under his care and then holding his reenlistment ceremony with the corpse. Navy prosecutors also accuse Gallagher of shooting two civilians in Iraq and opening fire on crowds. Gallagher has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
His lawyers have said he did not murder anyone and that disgruntled SEALs made the accusations because they wanted to get rid of a demanding platoon leader.
In their March 18 letter to Spencer, the House members said Gallagher’s family and friends reported that he had not had sufficient access to his defense attorneys. They also said they got reports he was not receiving enough food or adequate medical care.
Housing prisoners such as Gallagher who are awaiting trial with those who have completed their trials may be to blame for some of those problems, they said, and they called on Spencer to review that practice.
“Chief Gallagher is a decorated war-fighter who, like all service members, is entitled to the presumption of innocence while awaiting court-martial,” the letter said.
NBC 7 reached out to Stackhouse, who said his team is “very thankful” to President Trump for Gallagher’s release from pretrial confinement.
Stackhouse also thanked U.S. Representatives Duncan Hunter, Ralph Norman, and Dan Crenshaw in an email to NBC 7.
“Now that the President has directed Chief Gallagher's release, we look forward to the Navy expeditiously releasing him to his command,” Stackhouse wrote.
Once released, Stackhouse said Gallagher’s commander will determine if any moral restraints will be imposed upon Gallagher. This could include being restricted to one location, like San Diego County, or restricted from talking to particular individuals, like a witness.
Stackhouse ended his email to NBC 7 by saying, “Make no mistake about it, chief Gallagher is currently in a battle for his life as the potential sentence in this case includes life without the possibility of parole. He is focused and eager for the trial to begin so that he can face his accusers and so that he can be vindicated of these allegations.”
A military judge last month postponed Gallagher’s trial by three months after defense lawyers asked for more time to go over the prosecution’s evidence. The trial was reset for May 28.
NBC 7 contributed to this report.