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Reuters reporter testifies in federal terrorism case

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    News Media Update         NEW YORK         Confidentiality/Privilege    

Reuters reporter testifies in federal terrorism case

  • Egyptian reporter Esmat Salaheddin testified Monday that attorney Lynne F. Stewart called him in June 2000 and shared terrorism-related information from her client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman.

Sep. 16, 2004 — A Reuters reporter subpoenaed in May in the trial of New York attorney Lynne F. Stewart testified in federal court Monday about the facts of an article written four years ago.

Esmat Salaheddin, who has worked for 18 years for the Reuters bureau in Cairo, Egypt, wrote an article on June 14, 2000, following a phone conversation with Stewart, according to the Associated Press.

David Schulz, Salaheddin’s lawyer, helped negotiate the boundaries of questioning, limiting his client’s testimony to facts reported in the article.

In his testimony, Salaheddin confirmed that he had written the article but no longer had notes and tape recordings he made during newsgathering, the AP reported.

At the time of the interview, Stewart’s client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, had been barred under special restrictions from communicating with anyone but his lawyers and close family members.

By calling Salaheddin and sharing her client’s views with reporter, Stewart violated the restrictions she had agreed in writing to observe, the AP reported. Stewart is on trial for aiding and abetting terrorism.

Salaheddin testified that Stewart called him at his Cairo home and said the sheik was “withdrawing his support for the cease-fire that currently exists,” referring to a unilateral halt on terrorist actions by the Islamic Group in 1997.

One Islamic Group faction called for a return to terrorist war shortly after Salaheddin’s first article was published, the AP reported.

U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl upheld Salaheddin’s subpoena on Aug. 19 and Reuters did not appeal the ruling.

Although prosecutors dropped a subpoena for Newsday federal court reporter Patricia Hurtado, they are pursing the subpoenas for Joseph P. Fried of The New York Times and George Packer, a freelance reporter for The Times , the AP reported.

(U.S. v. Sattar; Media Counsel: David Schulz, Levine, Sullivan Koch & Schulz) CB

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