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'Shoebomber' letters will not be released to public

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‘Shoebomber’ letters will not be released to public

  • A federal judge ruled that the personal correspondence of convicted terrorist Richard Reid could contain hidden messages making them unsafe for release.

Feb. 4, 2003 — Letters written by convicted “shoebomber” Richard C. Reid will not be publicly released as planned, a federal judge in Boston ruled last week.

Judge William G. Young denied a request for the letters, filed by the Boston Herald and The Boston Globe, based on arguments outlined in an affidavit from Special Agent Thomas Powers, a terrorist specialist who heads Boston’s Federal Bureau of Investigation Unit.

Powers argued that the documents could pose a risk to national security.

Young decided that the letters will remained sealed indefinitely. Reid, a confessed member of al Qaida, corresponded with family members through letters. Prosecutors argued that the letters could contain coded messages meant for fellow al Qaida members.

Young issued his denial Jan. 28, just before the deadline he had previously set for the letters’ release.

In October, Reid pleaded guilty to various crimes, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder, for his effort to ignite a bomb hidden in his shoe on a Dec. 22, 2001 flight from Paris to Miami. After members of the crew and passengers subdued him, the flight was detoured to Boston. Reid’s disguised bomb reportedly had enough explosive power to blow a hole in the plane’s fuselage.

Young sentenced Reid on Jan. 30 to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Reid, a British National, is the first acknowledged member of al Qaida to go to jail in the United States since the September 11 attacks.

(United States v. Reid; Media Counsel: Jonathan Albano, Bingham McCutchen, Boston) KD

© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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