WASHINGTON – U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled she would not lift the ban on making photos or videos of federal criminal proceedings for the Moussaoui trial, set to begin Sept. 30.
"Significant concerns about the security of trial participants and the integrity of the fact-finding process justify a ban on photographing and broadcasting this trial," Brinkema wrote.
Court TV and C-SPAN had tried to lift the ban; Moussaoui, a Frenchman of Moroccan descent, had joined the channels in seeking broadcast of his trial, with some restrictions. Moussaoui is charged with conspiracy in the planning of the attacks.
Moussaoui's lawyer, Edward MacMahon Jr., sought to lift the ban but limit broadcast to later in the day unless the jury was sequestered – kept in a secure location under control of U.S. marshals.
MacMahon had no comment on the order, saying Moussaoui had asked his three attorneys not to comment on the case. Moussaoui stands accused of six conspiracy counts of being an accomplice to the Sept. 11 attacks and could receive the death penalty if convicted.
Betsy Vorce, spokeswoman for Court TV, said the network would decide early next week whether to appeal.
MacMahon argued that a televised trial would offer his client "an added layer of protection" that the proceedings would be fair.
The Justice Department opposed the move, saying that the broadcast could aid Al Qaeda "in retaliating against the witnesses who testify against it."
Lee Levine, representing the cable channels, had contended the ban was unconstitutional.
"Television is ... a normal part of the courtroom procedure," Levine said, arguing that Court TV has televised more than 750 state and local trials.
Brinkema disagreed, citing security issues and a potential chilling effect on witnesses. At a recent hearing, the judge said that televised images of the trial are "forever out there" and that they could "pose a security risk."
"Given the issues raised in the indictment, any societal benefits from photographing and broadcasting these proceedings are heavily outweighed by the significant dangers worldwide broadcasting of this trial would pose to the orderly and secure administration of justice," the judge wrote in Friday's order.
She said the presence of spectators, jurors and a judge would ensure the integrity of the trial.
Brinkema said in her order that the public's right to attend the trial would be satisfied because some members of both the public and the news media would be able to attend. Daily transcripts will be electronically available.
MacMahon had no comment on the order and said Moussaoui had asked his three attorneys not to comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.