Tuesday, March 2, 2010

News Outlets Seek Terror Plea Agreement

According to the New York Times, the AP and Newsday have asked a judge to make public a sealed plea agreement between the DOJ and Najibullah Zazi, the man who pleaded guilty last week to plotting to blow up New York City subways following the September 11 anniversary.

A federal judge sealed prosecutors' agreement with Najibullah Zazi, a 25-year-old former Colorado airport shuttle driver who pleaded guilty to terrorism charges this week. Zazi admitted hatching a plot to make homemade bombs and use them to launch a rush-hour attack.

Both Zazi's attorneys and prosecutors asked for the agreement to be sealed, said Robert Nardoza, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn. That request was also sealed.

Nardoza declined further comment Wednesday. Zazi's attorney, William Stampur, did not immediately return a message left Wednesday by The Associated Press.

In a letter to U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie on Tuesday, Newsday reporter John Riley said a report that Zazi's relatives had been threatened with prosecution to persuade Zazi to cooperate with investigators was among the reasons the plea agreement should be made public.

He said the documents may contain information on any pressure applied to
Zazi.

''The court should not make itself complicit in keeping secret information that would allow the public to assess for itself the appropriateness of the tactics used and concessions made,'' Riley's letter said.

The AP joined Newsday's request Wednesday and said in a letter that the documents have to be made public ''absent findings that sealing is essential to protect some overriding interest, and even then any sealing order must be narrowly tailored in scope and time.''

Karen Kaiser, assistant general counsel for the AP, said, ''The public is entitled to see the plea agreement and the motion to seal in this case, which involves a U.S. citizen who admits to having been recruited by al-Qaida to commit violent crimes in his own country.''

No comments: