By Jane Sutton
GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - Prison guards gave one of the alleged 9/11 conspirators a copy of the erotic novel "Fifty Shades of Grey," according to a defense lawyer who suggested on Wednesday that the unwanted gift was part of a campaign aimed at discrediting his client.
U.S. Representative Jim Moran of Virginia caused a sensation last month when he returned from a visit to the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and quoted guards as saying the soft-porn "Grey" novels were the most-requested reading material among the prison's highest-profile inmates.
It was unclear where the books came from since the detainee library doesn't stock the series, a romance trilogy by British author E.L. James that has topped best-seller lists around the world.
Defense attorney James Connell said his client, Ammar al Baluchi, showed up in court with a copy that he said had been given to him by guards on Monday night.
Baluchi had never heard of the book until he read news accounts of Moran's comments and mistakenly thought it was titled "Thirty Shades of Grey," Connell said.
"You'll never believe what the guards gave to me," Connell quoted Baluchi as saying.
Baluchi didn't want the book and gave it to Connell, who said it would stay locked in his safe until he could turn it over to the legal adviser for Camp 7. That maximum-security facility holds about a dozen captives previously held in CIA custody, including Baluchi and four other defendants charged in the 9/11 attacks.
Connell said giving the book to his client was either a practical joke gone too far or "some kind of disinformation campaign."
The congressman's allegations that the defendants preferred the "Grey" novels to the Koran ran counter to the pious image portrayed when they kneel on the courtroom floor to pray at regular intervals.
Detention camp officials had no comment and have repeatedly said they cannot discuss anything related to Camp 7 and those who live there.
But a lawyer for another 9/11 defendant, Ramzi bin al Shibh, said they had commented quickly enough when his client complained about the lunch service and left court on Tuesday afternoon.
A camp spokesman said bin al Shibh had objected to the absence of olives and honey with his meal. Defense lawyer James Harrington called that an attempt to inaccurately portray bin al Shibh as someone who "blew up over very trivial issues."
He also accused camp officials of "trying to paint a picture of our clients that's clearly not accurate."
Baluchi and bin al Shibh are among five prisoners charged with training and funding the 9/11 hijackers. A weeklong pretrial hearing in the death penalty case is scheduled to continue through Friday.
(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)