Using evidence obtained under the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program would violate a terror suspect's constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure, the suspect argued Wednesday in a court document filed with help from the American Civil Liberties Union.
In the motion filed in federal court in Denver, Jamshid Muhtorov also requested that prosecutors disclose more about how the surveillance law was used in his case. Muhtorov denies the terror charges he faces.
"We've learned over the last few months that the NSA has implemented the law in the broadest possible way, and that the rules that supposedly protect the privacy of innocent people are weak and riddled with exceptions," Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU's deputy legal director, said in a statement Wednesday. The ACLU called the filing the first of its kind.
Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon declined to comment.
The challenge had been expected after the Justice Department in October said it intended to use information gleaned from one of the NSA's warrantless surveillance programs against Muhtorov. It was the first time the department had made such a disclosure.
The Supreme Court has so far turned aside challenges to the law on the grounds that people who bring such lawsuits have no evidence they are being targeted.
In another case involving the government's surveillance methods, a federal judge in a Chicago terrorism case ruled Wednesday that a defendant's lawyers will be given access to an application prosecutors submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, established to monitor spying within in the United States. The Chicago judge called her pretrial ruling in the case of Adel Daoud a first. Daoud has denied seeking to detonate a bomb in Chicago in 2012.
In the Denver case, Muhtorov was accused in 2012 of providing material support to an Uzbek terrorist organization active in Afghanistan.
According to Wednesday's motion, Muhtorov was targeted by the Uzbek government because of his work with human rights groups in his homeland. He fled and resettled in Aurora, Colo., in 2007, as a political refugee with the help of the United Nations and the US government. He became a legal permanent U.S. resident.
Muhtorov was arrested Jan. 21, 2012, in Chicago with about $2,800 in cash, two shrink-wrapped iPhones and an iPad as well as a GPS device. In March 2012, his attorney, federal public defender Brian Leedy, said at a court hearing that Muhtorov denied the allegations and had been headed to the Uzbekistan region to visit family, including a sister who remains imprisoned in that country.
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