PORTLAND, Ore. – A federal judge ordered federal prosecutors Tuesday to reveal how much they paid an informant who recorded evidence during a terrorism investigation that led to the arrest of five Portland residents.
U.S. District Judge Robert Jones also ordered U.S. Attorney Charles Gorder to reveal whether Khalid Ibrahim Mostafa, an Egyptian-born mechanic, had worked as an informant before and for which law enforcement agencies.
The judge's orders came during the first day of two days of evidence hearings in U.S. District Court, the first substantial developments in the case since the five defendants were arrested last October.
Defense attorneys plan to challenge evidence collected under the warrants issued by the ultra-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court, or "spy court." The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was passed in 1978 as a way to fight Cold War espionage. Attorneys are also challenging aspects of the USA Patriot Act, which was passed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. It expanded the spy court's power.
The defendants, who are accused of conspiring to support Al Qaeda and the Taliban, are entitled to every piece of information the government has collected about them, defense attorneys say.
That includes files from two dozen American intelligence gathering organizations, and such wide-ranging data as a list of all detainees at the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the government is holding suspected terrorists caught overseas.
Jones rejected the request. In exchange, he asked Gorder to assure him no evidence gleaned from prisoners at the base will be used in his courtroom.
Gorder said Tuesday that federal prosecutors have cooperated with defense attorneys, turning over dozens of previously classified documents. He said he had declassified information from 271 classified intercepts and handed over 86 of those to the defense teams.
Jones also denied a request for one of the defendants, October Martinique Lewis.
Lewis, the ex-wife of defendant Jeffrey Leon Battle, said she would face prejudice from the jury if the judge allowed "emotional" evidence against Battle at her trial. Prosecutors say they recorded Battle discussing, but then dismissing, an idea to attack a Portland-area synagogue with assault rifles and cause hundreds of casualties.
Lewis, Battle, Patrice Lumumba Ford and brothers Ahmed Ibrahim Bilal and Muhammad Ibrahim Bilal were arrested last October.
Battle, Ford and Ahmed Bilal also face a gun charge.
A sixth suspect, Habis Abdulla al Saoub, remains at large.
All except Lewis are accused of traveling to China in late 2001 with the intent of getting to Afghanistan to join the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the fight against U.S. troops. Lewis is accused of wiring money to her ex-husband, Battle, to support the effort.
The case built slowly beginning shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, when several men were spotted wearing robes and turbans and target practicing in a gravel pit in Skamania County, Wash.
That prompted round-the-clock surveillance by FBI teams, in part using 36 ultrasecret warrants handed down by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court.
The disputed evidence includes the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants. Also presented as evidence in the case were 7,500 pages of FBI reports and 75 compact disks containing recorded conversations a government informant had with Battle and Ford.
During the hearing, Jones asked attorneys to limit the scope of the case to actions that happened in Oregon.
"This is kind of like a wild horse that is running in all directions. Are we going worldwide in what these people did?" he asked.
Jones also said conversations taped by the informant, Mostafa, during a mosque prayer service could be in violation of state law. Jones ordered Gorder to provide him with copies of those recordings for his review.