Saturday, September 14, 2013
A hearing for four Somali men
seeking a new trial after being convicted on terrorism-related charges
in a case that sprang from the National Security Agency’s massive
surveillance program will be held in November, a judge decided last
U.S. District Judge
Jeffrey Miller moved the hearing from Sept. 30 to Nov. 13. He did so
after federal prosecutors said they needed much more time to respond to
an extensive Sept. 6 court filing from lawyers for the defendants that
attacked the use of the government surveillance against their clients.
case against the four men is the only one so far that the government
has acknowledged it utilized information acquired by the National
Security Agency’s extensive phone call, email and Internet search
surveillance. Defense lawyers contend the secret surveillance violated
the constitutional rights of their clients, meaning the government will
be forced to defend its legality in court.
four men were convicted by a federal jury in San Diego for supporting
the terrorist group al-Shabab by sending about $8,500 to the
organization in 2007 and 2008. The case centered on some 1,800
wiretapped phone calls between the defendants and people in Somalia. The
main defendant, Basaaly Moalin, had been investigated by the FBI in
2003 for terrorist ties, but the investigation was closed when none was
Then, in 2007, the
NSA told the FBI that a phone number from San Diego had been in contact
with an “extremist” in Somalia. The FBI connected the number to Moalin
and that launched the second investigation.
lawyers were not told of the NSA involvement before the trial, though
they asked for evidence that authorized the wiretaps. They now say the
men should get a new trial and want to see the evidence that allowed the
wiretaps, which they have never been given.