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Lawyers in bomb plot case want wiretap documents

Jan 14, 2014

By The Associated Press

PORTLAND — Lawyers for a Somali-American convicted in an FBI sting of plotting to kill thousands of people at a Portland holiday celebration say his trial may have been tainted by the prosecution's failure to disclose that it used evidence derived from warrantless surveillance overseas.

His attorneys filed a request Monday for documents related to the surveillance that was disclosed months after the trial of Mohamed Mohamud, The Oregonian reported.

In November, the U.S. Justice Department said evidence in the case came from intercepted communications overseas that was used under terms of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The act allows the U.S. to electronically eavesdrop on foreign targets even when the surveillance happens to pick up the emails or phone calls of Americans, the newspaper said.

After the disclosure, Judge Garr King said he expected defense motions and canceled a sentencing hearing.

The papers filed Monday said the failure of the prosecution to disclose the surveillance may have affected how King ruled on issues such as allowing two undercover operatives to testify under fake names, curtailing the defense's ability to investigate their identity.

The defense cited several instances in which incomplete information may have affected their case. They questioned how the government first targeted Mohamud and whether that interest in the then-teenage student stemmed from unlawful surveillance.

“The public record about the scope of government surveillance, the public record about the intelligence community's failure to be forthcoming with courts or trial prosecutors, and the public record of this case raise serious concerns about the fairness of the proceedings that led to Mohamed's conviction,” the defense filing said.

Mohamud was accused of trying to set off a bomb at Pioneer Courthouse Square during the 2010 ceremony to light a Christmas tree, with thousands of people in the town square. The bomb, supplied by undercover agents, was a fake.

In January 2013, jurors rejected Mohamud's entrapment defense and found him guilty of attempting to detonate a weapon of mass destruction.


Information from: The Oregonian,

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