Federal court denies U.S. request to seal files in terror trial

By The Associated Press
10.27.06

ATLANTA — A federal court in Atlanta has denied the government's motion for a protective order for unclassified files in the trial of two men charged with providing material support to terrorists.

"The press and the public enjoy a qualified First Amendment right of access to criminal trial proceedings," U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ruled yesterday.

Though the government has the right to seal sensitive information when there's a compelling government interest, the court found that the proposed protective order would have covered all unclassified discovery material and thus essentially all filings in the case.

Syed Ahmed, 21, and Ehsanul Sadequee, 20, are accused of discussing terror targets with Islamic extremists and undergoing training to carry out a "violent jihad" against civilian and government targets, including an air base in suburban Atlanta.

Authorities say the men's motivation for planning attacks was "defense of Muslims or retaliation for acts committed against Muslims." Both are U.S. citizens. They have pleaded not guilty.

At the beginning of the month, their attorneys asked the court to suppress some evidence and conversations with investigators.