|NMU||COLORADO||Secret Courts||Jul 31, 2002|
Newspapers loses bid for access to terrorism-related hearing
- Federal judge in Colorado kept at bay reporters who wished to attend hearings of a man held as a material witness.
A federal magistrate in Colorado denied a request by two newspapers to attend a July 26 hearing for a man held as a material witness in the government’s terrorism investigation.
Magistrate Craig B. Shaffer ruled that The Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News were not entitled to attend a hearing for James Ujaama because Ujaama is the subject of a pending grand jury investigation in Virginia.
The Associated Press reported that federal sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that government officials believe Ujaama took computer equipment to an al-Qaeda terrorist camp in Afghanistan.
Ujaama, a U.S. citizen, was arrested on July 22. The hearing on July 26 was to determine the legality of detaining Ujaama as a material witness, not as a criminal.
Steve Zansberg, the attorney for the Post, argued that the public should know why Ujaama was being detained. He argued that there was no need for secrecy because the matter to be addressed had nothing to do with the Virginia grand jury investigation.
The magistrate, however, said a federal judge in Alexandria, Va., issued an order closing all hearings involving Ujaama. But he noted that the newspaper could not have known about the order because it was sealed.
© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press