Justice defies judge on terror suspect

Sept. 11, 2003 at 8:19 AM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- The Justice Department has again defied the federal judge overseeing the case of accused Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.

The department said it would not comply with her order to turn over two top al-Qaida detainees for interviews by Moussaoui and his legal team, the Washington Post said Thursday.

The refusal to produce the witnesses -- identified by sources as former al-Qaida operations chief Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Mustafa Ahmed Hawsawi, the alleged paymaster of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers -- means the case against Moussaoui could be dismissed by the judge.

Under federal laws governing disclosure of classified information in criminal cases, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema can sanction the government for refusing her order.

Prosecutors acknowledged Wednesday Brinkema probably will respond by dismissing the indictment against Moussaoui -- but they also said they would appeal a dismissal.

In their filing in federal court, prosecutors said their obligation to protect national security prevented them from complying with the judge's order.

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