WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court on Friday turned down a fired FBI (search) contractor who was seeking to revive her lawsuit against the government, saying state secrets could be exposed if it went forward.
Sibel Edmonds (search), 32, said she will take her case to the Supreme Court.
Edmonds said she was fired from her job as a wiretap translator because she told superiors she suspected a co-worker was leaking information to targets of an ongoing FBI probe.
The FBI said it fired her because she committed security violations and disrupted the office.
In its judgment, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a lower court ruling from last summer that Edmonds' claims might expose government secrets that could damage national security.
Edmonds' dismissal has attracted extraordinary attention, including a Justice Department inspector general's report that was critical of the FBI's handling of the matter and arguments by former Attorney General John Ashcroft (search) that her lawsuit could expose intelligence-gathering methods and disrupt diplomatic relations with foreign governments.
Siding with the government last year, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said he could not fully explain his ruling because of the sensitive nature of the case.
Ann Beeson, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who is representing Edmonds, said this case was the first time that courts have gone along with the government's secrecy claim to stop a lawsuit before it even responded to the allegations. "This vast expansion of the privilege is something that clearly warrants Supreme Court review," Beeson said.
The appellate judges held a hearing in the case two weeks ago that they closed to the public over the objections of Edmonds' lawyers. That challenge was supported by media organizations including The Associated Press.
The Justice Department's inspector general said Edmonds' allegations to her superiors about a co-worker "raised serious concerns that, if true, could potentially have extremely damaging consequences for the FBI."
The inspector general concluded that the FBI did not adequately investigate the allegations and that Edmonds was retaliated against for speaking out.