Judge upholds restrictions on Nixon's tapes

August 10, 1993|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- A federal judge has barred the National Archives from releasing more of President Nixon's White House tapes until all personal conversations are separated and returned to him.

Judge Royce C. Lamberth of U.S. District Court said yesterday the statute authorizing the release of tapes made by Mr. Nixon immediately after the Watergate break-in provided that "purely private material be returned for his sole custody and use." He added: "We are now in 1993. Not one bit of that material has been turned over."

The Archives, which so far has released 63 of 4,000 hours of tapes, was granted custody of the recordings in a 1974 law. In 1977 the Supreme Court upheld that statute and ordered the archivist to return personal materials, such as conversations unrelated to government business, to Mr. Nixon.

The order came on the 19th anniversary of Mr. Nixon's resignation after the House Judiciary Committee recommended impeaching the president for trying to cover up the Watergate scandals.

By granting Mr. Nixon his request for a preliminary injunction, Judge Lamberth halted the release of four hours of tapes that were to have been made public this month. The segments contained conversations from July and August of 1972.

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