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Media asking for access to evidence of terrorism

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  1. Court Access
Several news organizations are asking a federal judge to release prosecution evidence on the eve of a terrorism trial in…

Several news organizations are asking a federal judge to release prosecution evidence on the eve of a terrorism trial in Atlanta, The Associated Press reports.

The AP, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CNN and WSB-TV filed a motion Thursday in federal court in Atlanta seeking access to 12 hours of audiotaped interviews with Syed Haris Ahmed as well as videotape that Ahmed and his co-defendant supposedly created in an effort to case terrorism targets. The former Georgia Tech student is set to go on trial Monday on charges of providing material support to terrorists and conspiracy. His co-defendant, Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, is facing similar charges and is scheduled to be tried in August.

Ahmed’s attorneys asked that the videotapes be sealed after they were filed as evidence in January 2008. A federal magistrate judge rejected the request, but said the order was pending review by a district court judge, the AP reported. The case has been handled by two different district court judges, neither of whom has ruled on the magistrate’s order.

Access to the court records in this case is important for the public to be able to understand and evaluate the charges against the two defendants, said Thomas Clyde, an attorney representing the news organizations.

"Particularly in this case, the videotape that was supposedly taken by the defendants casing targets — allowing people who aren’t in the courtroom to see that is critically important to understanding the prosecution’s case," Clyde said. He said audio of Ahmed’s interactions with police would also help people understand the nature of the case.

Clyde said he has asked to be heard Monday morning before the trial begins.