News Groups Seek Moussaoui Filings


(AP) Several news organizations have requested that a federal court release motions by Zacarias Moussaoui, the accused Sept. 11 conspirator who is acting as his own lawyer.

Lawyers for the organizations, which include The Associated Press, asked the U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema Monday to release the filings, proposing that the government be allowed 10 days after a motion is filed to review it and withhold information deemed sensitive.

Brinkema, who has been presiding over the Moussaoui case in federal court in Alexandria, Va., told lawyers she had imposed a Thursday deadline for the government, Moussaoui and his standby legal council to file papers in response. After reviewing those, the judge may schedule a hearing for next week.

Brinkema ruled Aug. 29 that Moussaoui’s pleadings be kept under seal when they included “threats, racial slurs, calls to action, or other irrelevant and inappropriate language.” Many of Moussaoui’s court filings would qualify as such.

The order was issued after the Justice Department said Moussaoui’s motions might include coded messages to other al-Qaida members.

Arguing that the order was too broad and violated the First Amendment, the news organizations said in court papers that “the press and public have both the constitutional and common-law right to access his pleadings except where compelling interests required otherwise.”

Other media organizations involved in the case are ABC, CBS, CNN, the Tribune Co., USA Today, The Washington Post, and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

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