Bomb plot defendant denied files by court

Updated: 2014-06-19 07:08

By Reuters in Chicago (China Daily)

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Lawyers for a man accused of plotting to bomb a Chicago bar have been barred by a US federal court from seeing documents relating to his case that are classified under a recent US spying law.

On Monday, the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals overruled a landmark lower court decision that allowed lawyers for the defendant, Adel Daoud, to view classified material relating to his arrest and trial. The documents relate to search warrant applications presented to a court established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Daoud was arrested after electronic monitoring conducted under FISA. His case has drawn widespread interest because it touches on government surveillance issues raised by former security contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked classified material on government surveillance programs.

US District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled in January that Daoud's defense team should be allowed to see the FISA-related documents, as they may have a bearing on his defense.

However, writing for the appeals court, Circuit Judge Richard Posner said not all judicial procedures need to be fully public. He said Coleman should have herself tried to determine whether the surveillance was legal before deciding whether the defense could see any of the material.

Thomas Anthony Durkin, a lawyer for Daoud, disagreed with the decision. Durkin said in an e-mail on Tuesday that the ruling is "another step in the continued creation of a two-tiered system of justice in federal courts."

Daoud is accused of accepting a phony car bomb from undercover FBI agents, parking it near a Chicago bar and pressing the trigger. He has pleaded not guilty to the crime, which is alleged to have taken place in 2012. His trial is scheduled to begin Nov 10.

According to The Guardian, Durkin argued in court that Daoud was working on a term paper on Osama bin Laden in 2012, and examination of the FISA documents might show whether this led the FBI to target him for a terrorism-related sting operation.

Posner said FISA attempts to strike a balance between "the interest in full openness of legal proceedings and the interest in national security".

"Our own study of the classified materials has convinced us that there are indeed compelling reasons of national security for their being classified," Posner said.

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