Federal court allows limited access to Unabomber documents
MONTANA–A federal District Court judge in Helena initially denied access to all documents related to the investigation of “Unabomber” suspect Theodore Kaczynski, but in mid-April decided to release an inventory of items recovered from the suspect’s cabin.
The decision to release the information came in response to a suit for access filed by The New York Times, NBC News, The Denver Post and the Los Angeles Times.
Documents still sealed include the search warrant for Kaczynski’s cabin and two affidavits supporting the search warrant. One of the affidavits is believed to include a detailed description of the government’s investigation, according to lawyers for the media organizations.
The court order denying access included a promise to reconsider unsealing the documents at “either the conclusion of the search or the return of a grand jury indictment, whichever comes first.”
On April 16, the court released a list filed April 3 detailing over 700 items found in the search of Kaczynski’s 10 by 12 foot cabin. Among the items are a list of corporate executives, anti-depressant drugs, several books dealing with violence and a pipe bomb.
The media groups had petitioned the court to release the documents in early April, arguing that since Kaczynski was already in police custody the release of such documents could not harm the ongoing investigation, according to The New York Times. The press also argued that the release of the documents could not harm Kaczynski’s reputation because of the intense coverage already given to the story.
The attorney for the government argued that the materials requested included names of potential witnesses who, if contacted by the media, could have their testimony affected by interviews given before they testified before the grand jury scheduled to hear the case on April 17. An offer by the media to have the names of the witnesses redacted from the documents was not accepted by the court.
Kaczynski was captured in early April in his one-room Montana cabin. He is suspected of undertaking 16 letter bomb attacks resulting in 3 deaths and 23 injuries over the last 17 years. (U.S. v. Kaczynski; Media Counsel: John Morrison, Helena)