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American Tortured in Israel Pleads Innocent

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    IL: WE DON T KNOW, AND WE DON T HAVE TO TELL YOU, PROSECUTORS TELL SALAH - Chris Hack, Daily Southtown, 3/1/06
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 7, 2006
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      IL: 'WE DON'T KNOW, AND WE DON'T HAVE TO TELL YOU,'
      PROSECUTORS TELL SALAH -
      Chris Hack, Daily Southtown, 3/1/06
      http://www.dailysouthtown.com/southtown/dsnews/011abn3.htm


      Federal prosecutors said they still don't know if Mohammed Salah was a
      target of the Bush administration's secret spying program — but insist
      they don't have to tell him if the Bridgeview mosque was infiltrated
      by the FBI.

      Salah, already the only U.S. citizen to be declared an international
      terrorist, has pleaded innocent to federal charges alleging he served
      as an operative for the militant Palestinian group Hamas.

      Opening statements are scheduled to begin Friday in a crucial hearing
      to determine if a series of alleged confessions the Bridgeview man
      gave to Israeli authorities after his 1993 arrest there can be used
      against him here. Salah claims the statements were tortured out of him.

      For the past month, defense attorneys have been pressing prosecutors
      for details about the recently exposed domestic spying program, which
      involves government agents eavesdropping on communications without
      warrants for the past four years. Critics from both political parties
      have blasted the program as illegal, but Bush has insisted it's a
      necessary tool to fight terrorism.

      In court papers filed earlier this week, prosecutors said they need
      another 45 days to determine if Salah was subjected to the surveillance.

      "It seems like obfuscation and delay to me," defense attorney Michael
      E. Deutsch said Tuesday. "I'm not very impressed with it. What seems
      to be happening is that they're still trying to come up with some
      national response to this."

      According to the government filing, a special squad of U.S. Department
      of Justice lawyers has been fielding requests for information on the
      program. The Chicago-based prosecutors noted that any results of the
      search for surveillance of Salah would be "highly classified" and
      subject to review by U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve before disclosure
      to the defense.

      But prosecutors flatly rejected the defense team's call for
      information on any government infiltration of the Bridgeview mosque
      where Salah worships.

      In the court filing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Ferguson decried
      the request as "completely off the rails to the extent that defendant
      Salah purports to take up the cudgel for the Bridgeview mosque."

      "The government submits that the motion is baseless, seeks information
      utterly irrelevant to these proceedings," Ferguson wrote.

      The mosque, which gave money to several Muslim charities later shut
      down by the government amid terrorism-funding allegations, has long
      been a focal point of the federal probe into Hamas activity in the
      south suburbs.

      "We know the FBI has had informants in the mosque before," Deutsch
      said. "And we know that the FBI has had an interest in the mosque in
      general."

      Deutsch also didn't get answers on whether the mosque was subjected to
      a different secret government program — this one involving testing for
      radioactive materials near mosques and other Muslim sites around the
      country since early 2002.

      Chris Hack may be reached at chack @ dailysouthtown.com or
      (708) 633-5984.

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