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Federal appeals court rules against Islamic charity in NSA wiretapping lawsuit

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] Friday ruled [PDF text] that a defunct Muslim charity cannot use a document turned over to it by the US government as evidence that it was the subject of an illegal wiretap. The court held that a secret call log accidentally given to lawyers for the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation by the US Treasury Department qualifies as a state secret [SourceWatch backgrounder] and cannot be entered into evidence in the foundation's lawsuit against the government because of national security interests. The court sent the lawsuit back to the trial court, but the case is not expected to survive if the foundation cannot rely on the call log.

The Oregon lawsuit, filed [JURIST report] by the now-defunct foundation in February 2006, claims that the National Security Agency illegally wiretapped several conversations between the charity and its attorneys, having failed to get a court order as required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) [text; JURIST news archive]. In September 2006, lawyers for the US Department of Justice asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a district court ruling [JURIST report] allowing the charity's lawsuit to proceed. Earlier that month, the lower court judge denied the government's motion to dismiss [opinion, PDF], rejecting contentions [JURIST report] that the proceeding would reveal state secrets. AP has more. Wired has additional coverage.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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