CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Federal prosecutors worry that classified documents could become public during the trial of a CIA contractor charged in the beating of an Afghan prisoner who later died and they want a hearing on the matter before any trial.

They also ask the court in a motion filed in federal court in Raleigh to bar defense attorneys for David Passaro from disclosing any classified information “except as is necessary during these proceedings.”

Passaro faces four counts of assault and assault with a dangerous weapon – a large flashlight – on detainee Abdul Wali, 28, who died at a U.S. base in Afghanistan last June.

Passaro was interrogating Wali before his death, prosecutors say. If convicted, Passaro faces up to 40 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Passaro, a former Army Green Beret, worked as a CIA contractor in Afghanistan while on leave from a civilian job with the Fort Bragg-headquartered Special Operations Command.

He is being held without bail pending a trial tentatively scheduled for Aug. 2.

The prosecutors’ motion was filed last month and made public this week.

In it, lead prosecutor Jim Candelmo wrote that prosecutors anticipate having to share with the defense documents from U.S. intelligence agencies and some of the documents could be classified.

“The unauthorized disclosure and uncontrolled dissemination of information classified as ‘Top Secret’ or ‘Sensitive Comparted Information’ would cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States,” Candelmo wrote.

The motion also cites concerns that defendants given access to sensitive documents can hurt the government “by threatening to reveal irrelevant but sensitive information during trial” and notes that the federal Classified Information Procedures Act requires the judge assigned to the case to review classified material before it can be used as evidence.

AP-ES-07-09-04 1350EDT

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