By Connor Adams Sheets
The attorney representing Adis Medunjanin, one of the three Queens men arrested in connection with a plot to bomb the New York City subway system in September 2009, has expanded a motion to suppress new evidence related to the case.
The federal government’s recent move to declassify 42 conversations it recorded under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act between that month and Medunjanin’s arrest Jan. 7, 2010, prompted the attorney, Robert Gottlieb, to make the move.
Gottlieb contends that the conversations should not be admitted as evidence because allowing them to be heard in open court would be a violation of attorney-client privilege.
Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn, where the case is being tried, declined to comment on the release of the tapes or Gottlieb’s expansion of the motion to suppress.
Bosnian native Adis “Mohammed” Medunjanin, 26, a Flushing High School and Queens College graduate, lived in the Mitchell-Linden Houses at the time of his arrest.
Medunjanin pleaded not guilty Aug. 6 to charges against him and five alleged members of al-Qaeda in connection with the terror plot. His charges include conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, providing material support to al-Qaeda, receiving military training from a recognized terrorist organization and attempting suicide by purposely crashing during the incident on the Whitestone Expressway.
In December Gottlieb already had filed a motion to suppress solo statements his client made to investigators following his arrest after he crashed his car on the Whitestone Expressway.
The attorney maintains that he was denied access to Medunjanin for more than 36 hours after he was arrested and that during those hours Medunjanin was improperly coerced and pressured by agents of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, including FBI agents. While he was being interrogated, Medunjanin signed a waiver of speedy arraignment, which Gottlieb said should be thrown out, along with other rights he waived.
The expanded motion, introduced Feb. 11, goes a step further, requesting the suppression of all 42 recorded conversations.
“We’ve asked the judge to review all the FISA warrants and applications to see if they meet the requirements of the law, and if there was a violation of constitutional law,” Gottlieb said. “We’re asking that all of his statements that he made and that were recorded by the government be suppressed.”
The case is a unique one in that it is one of a very few in the history of FISA to look at how it applies to attorney-client privilege.
“This issue of whether the government can listen in on attorney-client conversations has not been litigated very much,” Gottlieb said. “This is a case of extreme importance and it’s a new issue that the judge is going to have to decide. We’ve been doing research and the nuance here which is unique is that it’s the interception of attorney-client as opposed to the interception of a individual and a foreign agent or any other civilian.”
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.