Appeals court says inclusion of Muslim groups on co-conspirator list based on 'untested allegation'
WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today welcomed a recent ruling by a federal appeals court that federal prosecutors violated the rights of major American Muslim organizations by including them on a list of "unindicted co-conspirators" in a terror-related case.
Judge: Feds Violated U.S. Islamic Group's Rights
CAIR said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that the U.S. Department of Justice violated the Fifth Amendment rights of the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), and by implication the rights of similarly-named Muslim organizations, when it included them on the publicly-filed list in 2007.
The court also ruled that inclusion on the list was the result of "simply an untested allegation of the Government, made in anticipation of a possible evidentiary dispute that never came to pass." According to the ruling, "The allegation did not improperly enjoy the imprimatur of grand jury approval, nor was it erroneously conceded, implicitly or explicitly, as part of any plea."
In addressing the guilt by association argument raised by the government, the court said: "[A] broadly worded conclusion regarding a party's 'association' with various other entities is not grounded in any legal rule that would give that conclusion substance and boundaries. As such, the district court's statements regarding NAIT's 'association'. . .went beyond what was relevant to the any hypothetical evidentiary issue and may have obfuscated the underlying Fifth Amendment issue."
CAIR said in a statement responding to the court's ruling: "Since 2007, when the government violated its own rules in publishing the list, our nation's growing ranks of professional Islamophobes have exploited its public release in an attempt to damage the reputations of mainstream American Muslim organizations such as CAIR. This welcome ruling by the appeals court now denies anti-Muslim bigots one of their favorite, yet phony, talking points."
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations