By Sadef Ali Kully
A judge in Brooklyn federal court has approved the agreement on sharing evidence requested by federal prosecutors in the terror case that accused two Queens women of plotting and training for a terrorist attack.
After months of going back and forth on case evidence, prosecutors agreed to grant defense attorneys access to unclassified evidence.
The federal stipulation and order, approved by federal Judge Sterling Johnson, stated that before any person, including expert witnesses who must get judical approval for access to the evidence, according to federal court records.
In April, federal investigators arrested and charged the two women, Asia Siddiqui, 31, and Noelle Velentzas, 28, with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, as well as with teaching and sharing information on how to make and use a explosive, destructive device and weapon of mass destruction. Siddiqui was additionally charged with material false statements, according to the federal criminal complaint.
Velentzas, married with two children, lived on 104th Road in South Jamaica, and had taken Siddiqui, a former York College student, into her home as a roommate, court records said. According to the federal criminal complaint, both women allegedly expressed to a federal undercover agent that they wanted to stage an attack using materials similarly deployed in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. The women were also accused of downloading instructions on how to make explosive materials.
Siddiqui was also charged with making false statements in connection with an editor of an Al-Qaeda magazine publication when she was stopped and questioned by federal authorities at LaGuardia Airport in 2014. Federal investigators said that Siddiqui wrote a poem depicting terrorist violence in a magazine that published Al-Qaeda propaganda.
In June, federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn had requested one week to disclose unclassified discovery materials and once the stipulation was filed, they expected to begin the review of evidence. . Despite a month passing, Sean Maher and Thomas Dunn, defense attorneys for the two women, still have not received all the evidence.
Dunn, Siddiqui’s attorney, said the evidence could take months to examine and they would need over one terabyte (1TB) hard drive for200 hours worth of recordings electronic recording from the federal investigation.
The prosecution started sharing evidence that included audio recordings, corresponding draft transcripts, video recordings of the post-interview arrest and physical evidence obtained during the home search, such as laptops, cell phones, memory cards and an external hard drive. A recording of Siddiqui’s interview with federal authorities at LaGuardia Airport is also included.
Maher, Velentzas’s attorney, told Judge Sterling Johnson he would need to purchase an external hard drive to obtain all the electronic evidence.
Both defense attorneys said that the rest of the evidence would be handed over during the next several weeks and that they would need two hard drives, one for their office and one to take over to the prison.
If convicted, Siddiqui and Velentzas, both would face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skull