Eddie Gallagher is a Navy Seal who has been accused of war crimes while he was serving in Iraq. In March, President Trump announced that he was having Gallagher moved to “less restrictive confinement” while Gallagher waited for his day in court. The president said he wanted to honor Gallagher for his past service to the country, and said that the trial should come quickly. But critics say Gallagher is a war criminal who doesn’t deserve special treatment.
On May 30, a military judge ordered Gallagher to be released from custody while awaiting trial. Gallagher’s lawyers are expected to ask for his case to be dismissed.
Here’s what you need to know about Eddie Gallagher:
1. He’s Accused of Stabbing a Prisoner to Death & Shooting at Civilians While Serving in Iraq
Gallagher was arrested last September and has been held in San Diego’s Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar ever since. According to the Navy Times, Gallagher has been accused of a host of war crimes, all allegedly carried out while he was deployed in Iraq in 2017. He’s accused of stabbing an Iraqi prisoner of war to death. He is also accused of shooting at civilians with his sniper rifle.
The Navy Times reports that Gallagher is also accused of urging fellow SEALs to obstruct justice and that he threatened to retaliate against junior sailors who spoke to law enforcement officials.
2. Prosecutors Say Gallagher Posed with an Iraqi Teen’s Corpse After Murdering Him
Gallagher has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against him. He’s accused of stabbing an Iraqi teenager while he was deployed to the Iraqi city of Mosul in May 2017. Prosecutors charge that after killing the teenager, an ISIS detainee, Gallagher posed with the corpse; they say this was all done as part of a re-enlistment ceremony.
Gallagher is also accused of shooting at civilians using his sniper rifle, and of trying to intimidate junior SEALs who wanted to speak out against him.
3. He Has a Wife & Three Children
Eddie Gallagher is married and has three children — two sons and a daughter. His wife, Andrea, told the Navy Times that she, and the rest of Gallagher’s family, had “suffered in silence” as the allegations against him began to spread. She says that her husband is innocent.
4. His Family Says He’s the Victim of a Smear Campaign from SEALS Who Were Angry that He Called them Cowards
Eddie’s brother, Sean, has been vocal in his defense of Gallagher. Sean calls Eddie Gallagher a “humble hero” and says he deserves a parade, instead of being locked up behind barbed wire. Sean says that Eddie is the victim of a smear campaign carried out by “a few disgruntled subordinates ” who resented Eddie’s leadership style while they were serving under him in Iraq.
According to Sean, the problem started when Eddie was leading a group of young Seals to clear ISIS members out of Mosul. Some of the Seals were inexperienced and weren’t used to being pushed hard. A small group of them tried to “mutiny” and Eddie responded by rebuking and benching them.
Sean says that that small group of “complainers” retaliated against Eddie by spreading “false charges” about him. Sean insists that the charges against Eddie are all false and that others who served with him in 2017 have denied that any of the charges are true.
5. He Served for 20 Years & Did 8 Combat Tours
Eddie Gallagher has served nearly two decades in the military; his brother, Sean, calls him the “humble hero” of the family. He’s earned medals for valor, good conduct, and leadership; he’s also served eight tours of combat duty. Gallagher was prepared to retire this spring.
Gallagher, 39, grew up in Indiana and first enlisted in the Navy in 1999. He first served as a corpsman attached to the Marines; 14 years ago, he became a SEAL. He was promoted to chief in 2015 and has been awarded, among other things, two bronze stars.