NSA wiretaps focus in College Park case

March 01, 2006|By CAPITAL NEWS SERVICE

Federal prosecutors agreed this week to examine whether a College Park man arrested last fall on terrorism charges was tracked by a disputed federal warrantless-wiretap program.

Government lawyers said they will investigate whether defendant Ali Asad Chandia, 29, was tracked using the National Security Agency's surveillance program, defense attorney Marvin Miller said. The prosecution also agreed to look into other possible evidence, including interviews with two men held at Guantanamo Bay who reportedly have denied Chandia's involvement with a terrorist camp.

Miller said the discovery of additional information in the case is "potentially" good news for Chandia, who is free on bail.

Lawyers from both sides met with Judge Claude M. Hilton of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to discuss the emergence of new information in the case.

Prosecutors have evidence Chandia was tracked by at least one wiretap covered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which allows for solely domestic wiretaps with a judge's permission, Miller said. The government is looking into whether Chandia was the subject of other FISA wiretaps, and the results are expected this month.

Prosecutors also agreed to look into exactly when a pair of men requested as witnesses by the defense were at camps run by Lashkar-e-Taiba -- also known as the Army of the Righteous -- which was designated a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department, Miller said. Both men were subsequently detained at a U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, but one has been released.

Chandia is accused of providing assistance to Lashkar-e-Taiba.

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