Case touches on concerns raised by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden
DENVER (AP) — A terror suspect challenging the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program wants prosecutors to reveal how they built their case against him.
In motions filed Monday in federal court in Denver, attorneys for Jamshid Muhtorov said they need to know about the government’s surveillance methods so they can challenge their legality in court.
Attorneys want to know about each surveillance technique, when it was used and what evidence it yielded so they can determine whether investigators illegally gathered evidence against Muhtorov and co-defendant Bakhityor Jumaev, federal public defender Virginia Grady wrote in the filing.
The Muhtorov case touches on concerns raised by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about the government’s expanding spying practices. It was the first time the Justice Department disclosed that it would use information gained from one of the government’s warrantless surveillance programs against an accused terrorist.
Muhtorov was accused in 2012 of providing material support to an Uzbek terrorist organization active in Afghanistan. The evidence against him consists largely of phone calls and Internet communications.
But defense attorneys say the government probably relied on other still-secret surveillance techniques in its investigations of Muhtorov and Jumaev. Grady said it’s their constitutional right to know the facts. The government’s withholding of the information is keeping other defendants from challenging sweeping new forms of surveillance, she wrote.
"By now, it is clear that the government routinely employs legally untested surveillance methods in aid of investigations like this one — and that it often seeks to conceal those methods in order to avoid court review," Grady wrote.
The government’s disclosure of its use of recording devices and secret wiretapping in other criminal cases allowed courts to set guidelines for their use, she added.
Muhtorov, who was arrested with $2,800 in cash, two shrink-wrapped iPhones, an iPad and a GPS, has denied the charges against him. Prosecutors have not responded to the filings.