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FBI "destroys" search warrants for Palestinian professor hed on Terrorism charges

"Trying to cut down on clutter, clerks at a federal courthouse accidentally destroyed search warrants in the case of a University of South Florida professor charged with aiding terrorists."

"The U.S. government accuses him of being the North American head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He faces life in prison if convicted. "
 http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/nat-gen/2003/dec/10/121009559.html

Today: December 10, 2003 at 6:19:44 PST

Documents Destroyed in Professor Case
By VICKIE CHACHERE
ASSOCIATED PRESS

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Trying to cut down on clutter, clerks at a federal courthouse accidentally destroyed search warrants in the case of a University of South Florida professor charged with aiding terrorists.

The mistake was discovered last week when attorneys for Sami Al-Arian requested copies. The documents contained affidavits from federal agents that supported 1995 searches of Al-Arian's home and offices and were among thousands of documents shredded sometime between 1998 and 2002.

U.S. Judge Thomas McCoun told defense attorneys Linda Moreno and William Moffitt he has asked federal prosecutors and the FBI to search their files for copies.

Moffitt said Tuesday he is researching how the absence of original documents could affect the case. U.S. Attorney Paul I. Perez said the document destruction should not affect the office's ability to prosecute.

Sheryl Loesch, clerk of court for the Middle District of Florida, said clerks misread guidelines for destroying files when they were clearing out old cases to make room for new ones. She said the destruction has affected only one other case, and in that instance there was enough information on the case's docket to satisfy attorneys.

Al-Arian was indicted earlier this year. The U.S. government accuses him of being the North American head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He faces life in prison if convicted.
What FBI? 10.Dec.2003 15:54

laszlo

If you would have someone print your posting and read it to you, then you might discover that it was the back-room clerks at the federal courthouse, not the FBI, that destroyed the search warrants. In fact, the court asked the U.S. Attorney and the FBI to check their own files for duplicates.

"Freudian slip"? 10.Dec.2003 18:57

Inga Helmholtz

Sure, the FBI had NOTHIN to do with it! ;-) It just so happens that they were saved the trouble by the court clerks of trying to hide the fact that they probably had very flimsy grounds for their original searches, as would have probably been revealed in the affidavits, as is so common in such FBI cases. Still and all, the contributor who chose the title did make at least a "Freudian slip," if not a hasty out-and-out bungle, by jumping to the conclusion that it was the FBI themselves who did the FBI such a kind favor

how convenient. 11.Dec.2003 09:20

this thing here

>U.S. Attorney Paul I. Perez said the document destruction should not affect the office's ability to prosecute.<

we the prosecution have everything we need to prosecute because we know exactly what was in the documents because, lucky for us, they were destroyed AFTER we reviewed them. oops. sorry. unfortunately, the defense won't have this ability to review the documents, because they were "destroyed" BEFORE the defense team could review them. oh well. no one said trials had to be fair...