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Defense lawyers granted access to Fisa surveillance documents in terror case

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Adel DaoudA representative of a criminal defendant has for the first time been granted permission to view evidence gathered against him under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, one of the wellsprings of authority for terrorism surveillance.

Judge Sharon Coleman, a federal district judge in Illinois, issued an order on Wednesday permitting a lawyer for Adel Daoud, who is accused of attempting to detonate a car bomb near a Chicago bar, to learn the origins of the information the FBI or other US authorities collected about him under an order from a secret court that permits surveillance on terrorists or “agents of a foreign power”.

Never in the 36-year history of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa) has anyone but the government and a judge seen the basis for a Fisa application or material derived from one.

“While this court is mindful of the fact that no court has ever allowed the disclosure of Fisa materials to the defense, in this case, the court finds that the disclosure may be necessary,” Coleman wrote, in an order first reported by New York Times journalist Charlie Savage on Twitter.


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