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Justice Department: What about Those Wiretaps?

In July, the Justice Department acknowledged that terrorist suspects must be notified if government surveillance programs produced evidence being used against them. The statement relates to Alam Qazi and Sheheryar Alam Qazi, brothers accused in a terrorism plot. 

Later, the government stated it did not intend to introduce evidence against the two suspects that was obtained via the 2008 law. Attention to the matter is heightened with the widespread exposure of secret government surveillance. Focus on the issue has revealed a difference of opinion within the Justice Department. Key points include: 

  • In an earlier case before the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. advised the justices that defendants would be told if evidence obtained against them had been acquired through government surveillance. 
  • As it turns out, the statement was at odds with current practices of national security prosecution teams who had not been informing defendants of the surveillance-associated evidence being used. 

From here, future defendants are to be apprised of evidence gained from government surveillance programs. Legal counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, Patrick Toomey, called the admission that defendants must be told of the surveillance evidence, “a very important first step, because it’s the government finally owning up to some of its obligations in a way that it hasn’t really grappled with up to this point.” 

Legally obtained and used evidence is essential in the American legal system. If arrested or facing investigation, speak with an experienced criminal law attorney in New York.

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