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Reporters subpoenaed in lawyer's terrorism case

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    News Media Update         NEW YORK         Confidentiality/Privilege    

Reporters subpoenaed in lawyer’s terrorism case

  • At least four reporters have been subpoenaed to testify in the trial of lawyer Lynne Stewart; motions to quash the subpoenas have been filed.

June 2, 2004 — Several reporters were subpoenaed last week to testify in the federal trial of attorney Lynne Stewart, who is charged with, among other things, providing material support to terrorists. Joseph Fried of The New York Times , George Packer, a freelance writer for the Times , and Patricia Hurtado of Newsday have all received subpoenas. Esmat Salaheddin of Reuters’ Egypt bureau has also been subpoenaed, according to a May 25 story on

Attorneys for the media companies have filed motions to quash the subpoenas, which seek the testimony of the reporters regarding interviews they conducted with Stewart. Federal prosecutors have said they are seeking confirmation of published reports, not unpublished materials or confidential information, reported.

“Even though the government is only asking us to verify published statements, that inevitably leads to cross-examination by the defense about unpublished materials,” said Times counsel George Freeman.

Freeman added that “the materials sought are very tangential to any legal issues in the case.”

Stewart is charged with conspiring to relay messages between her client, the Muslim cleric Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, and an Egyptian terrorist organization. She is also charged with violating a Special Administrative Measure that limits Rahman’s “access to the mail, the media, the telephone and visitors,” according to the Department of Justice.

Rahman is currently serving a life sentence in prison in the United States for conspiring to blow up several New York landmarks and to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. He was convicted in 1995.

Stewart’s trial is set to begin on June 21. She will be tried with two co-defendants, Ahmed Abdel Sattar, a U.S. postal worker, and Mohammed Yousry, an Arabic interpreter.

U.S. District Court Judge John Koeltl has not yet ruled on the motions to quash the subpoenas.

(U.S. v. Sattar) KM

© 2004 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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