Published June 24, 2006
| Associated Press
NEW YORK – A federal appeals court on Friday declined to force the government to turn over information on the National Security Agency's wiretapping program to a man charged in a terrorism case.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the case of Yassin Aref, an imam at an Albany mosque who is accused of laundering money for an FBI informant posing as an arms dealer.
Aref wanted the government to say whether any of the evidence against him had been gathered through the warrantless electronic surveillance program, which has been challenged by some civil liberties groups.
He asked the court to force the NSA to reveal details of the program, rule it illegal and toss out evidence gathered from it. The New York Civil Liberties Union joined Aref's motion.
Much of the legal debate over the request has been conducted under a shroud of secrecy because of the program's classified nature, with key court documents available only to those with security clearance.
Although the government made redacted portions of some documents available to the defense, Aref petitioned the appeals court for greater access.
The three-judge panel said it didn't have jurisdiction to grant much of what Aref requested.
Aref and Mohammed Hossain, a pizzeria owner and mosque member, are accused of laundering money from 2003 to 2004 for the FBI informant, a Pakistani businessman posing as an arms dealer. The mosque was raided by federal agents on Aug. 5, 2004, following a yearlong sting.