NEW YORK – Muslim groups that accused the New York Police Department of illegally spying on them in New Jersey after the Sept. 11 attacks appear on the verge of settling a civil rights lawsuit against the city.
In an order filed last month in federal court in Newark, U.S. District Judge William Martini said the parties had notified him they had reached an agreement. He gave them 60 days to finalize the deal, the details of which were not disclosed.
Islamic community leaders, the lead plaintiff and the plaintiff's lawyers were scheduled to make an announcement about the case Thursday. Neither side commented Wednesday.
The suit was filed in 2012 following reports by The Associated Press that revealed how the NYPD infiltrated Muslim student groups and put informants in mosques as part of a broad effort to prevent terrorist attacks. The effort crossed state lines into New Jersey, where the department collected intelligence on ordinary people at mosques, restaurants and schools starting in 2002, the AP reported.
In 2014, Martini ruled the surveillance program was a legal way to fight terrorism, rejecting the claim it was unconstitutional because it focused on religion, national origin and race. An appeals court revived the suit in 2015 by reversing the decision. Settlement talks began in 2016.
Federal judges have approved settlements in two other suits making similar allegations by Muslim groups in New York City that the NYPD's tactic violated their civil rights.
This story has been corrected to show the announcement in the case is scheduled for Thursday, not Wednesday.