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Civil liberties group asks appeals court to make secret wiretap ruling public

[JURIST] The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) [advocacy website] on Monday asked the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals [official website] to declassify a district judge's ruling on possible warrantless wiretaps used by the government in a high-profile terrorism case. Earlier this month, District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy issued a secret ruling [JURIST report] in which he rejected a defense motion to dismiss charges based on possible evidence from wiretaps that may have been illegal. The designation of the ruling as secret means that neither the defendant, the defense lawyers nor the public can read the judge's reasoning for rejecting the motion. Defense lawyers had argued that the evidence may have been obtained as part of the government's controversial domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive] by the National Security Agency.

The government has charged two Albany mosque members [JURIST report] with money laundering and supporting terrorism following a year-long sting operation. Although terrorism charges against the two were later dropped [JURIST report], the prosecutors have pursued the money laundering charges. Read the NYCLU news release on its appeal and its memorandum in support [PDF] of its petition to the appeals court for a writ of mandamus. AP has more.

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