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Judge: Idaho terror case evidence is ‘classified’

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal court judge in Idaho has appointed a security specialist in the case of an Uzbek national accused of terrorism-related crimes in Idaho and Utah, to vet potentially classified information in the evidence. In his order released late Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge appointed Winfield S. “Scooter” Slade as a classified information security officer in the case against Fazliddin Kurbanov. Kurbanov, a 30-year-old refugee from central Asia, has pleaded not guilty in federal court in Boise to charges including helping teach people to build bombs to target public transportation. Lodge wrote in Tuesday's order he's been made aware of the potential existence of classified information in Kurbanov's case. In appointing Slade, Lodge cited a federal law requiring courts to have procedures in place for handling such sensitive material.

Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.


Judge: Terror case evidence may be 'classified'
JOHN MILLER,Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho federal judge has appointed a security specialist in the case of an Uzbek national accused of terrorism-related crimes in Idaho and Utah to prevent unauthorized disclosure of classified information.

In Tuesday's order, U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge appointed Winfield S. “Scooter” Slade as classified information security officer in the case against Fazliddin Kurbanov. The 30-year-old refugee living in Boise has pleaded not guilty to allegations he helped teach people to build bombs to target public transportation.

Lodge wrote he's been “made aware of the potential existence of classified information in the investigative material involved” in Kurbanov's case.

In appointing Slade, Lodge cited a 23-year-old federal law, the Classified Information Procedures Act. It requires courts to have procedures in place for handling sensitive material, to balance a defendant's right to see the evidence against him or her with the government's ability to protect its secrets.

Among other things, Slade will be responsible for installing security devices at the federal courthouse in Boise, if necessary, as well as storing “all classified materials in a safe or safe-type steel file container with built-in, dial-type, three-position, changeable combinations,” according to the law.

The law was passed in 1980 to keep spies from disclosing state secrets, should they be accused of a crime. It requires defendants to tell prosecutors and judges of classified information they may disclose. Defense team members might have to get clearance to see some evidence. And the government might be allowed to make substitutes for classified information, provided it doesn't impair a proper defense.

Charles Peterson, the Boise attorney representing Kurbanov, said invoking the law is common where classified material may be involved. He doesn't expect it to have a significant impact.

In 2004, Peterson was part of the defense team in another terrorism-related case where a judge also invoked the federal law to order a security officer appointed. In that case, he helped defend Sami Al-Hussayen, a Saudi student at the University of Idaho eventually acquitted of using his computer skills to help terrorist-linked groups.

“You can sort of understand there are times when there might be information important to national security that the public doesn't know about,” Peterson said. “I'm going to wait and see what happens. I don't have any idea what the government intends to do, with classified or non-classified information.”

In some court proceedings, the Classified Information Procedures Act has been used to exclude the public. For instance, in 2011 a judge in Virginia held a secret hearing in the prosecution of a former CIA operative, Jeffrey Sterling, accused of leaking government secrets about Iran to a reporter. Even Sterling's wife was barred from the courtroom.

Kurbanov, a Russian- and Uzbek-speaking truck driver in Idaho since 2009, was arrested May 17. He's charged in Idaho with providing material support and resources to a group designated by the U.S. government as a foreign terrorist organization. In Utah, he's charged with teaching others how to make a weapon of mass destruction, including holding how-to shopping trips.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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