Judge rules terror suspect can continue phone use - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Judge rules terror suspect can continue phone use

The phone Christopher Cornell used during his interview with FOX19 NOW (PHOTO: Lisa Hutson) The phone Christopher Cornell used during his interview with FOX19 NOW (PHOTO: Lisa Hutson)
BOONE COUNTY, KY (FOX19) -

A federal judge on Tuesday denied the government's motion to revoke Christopher Cornell's phone privileges at the Boone County Jail.

Federal authorities filed a motion last week claiming Cornell's access to a telephone raises national security concerns and that it could be used to contact others who support terrorist organizations.

The judge sided with Cornell's attorney, who also requested the court restrict any member of the public from contacting Cornell without prior authorization from his counsel. The restriction, the attorney argued, is necessary in order to protect Cornell's right to a fair trial.

The new No-Contact Order lists pre-approved individuals Cornell can communicate with.

The Green Township native is able to reach through his cell bars to make phone calls, which are recorded by jail officials. Before Tuesday's No-Contact Order, he was able to call whoever he wanted.

On March 5, he called the FOX19 NOW newsroom and spoke for one hour with Tricia Macke.

"Why did you call us?” asked Macke.

“Um, I don't know. Curiosity I guess. I just felt like calling you guys,” said Cornell.

Many have asked how a federal prisoner suspected of plotting terrorist acts could have such easy access to a phone.

"Unless a judge or somebody else orders that it not be done, but generally with inmates they are going to have access to make phone calls,” noted Butler County Chief Deputy Anthony Dwyer.

Dwyer said Cornell had access to a phone just like any other inmate when he briefly stayed in the Butler County jail before he was moved to Boone County.

While he cannot comment on Cornell's specific case, Dwyer said federal prisoners have the same rights to phone calls as state and local inmates.

"It's common, access to a phone call. Everybody hears when you come into a jail 'I want my phone call.' It's pretty common to give people access and not only once they are here at booking but once they are here and held for any length of time, you are going to have access to a phone probably daily,” said Dwyer.

But that doesn't mean you will have a private conversation. At the beginning of Cornell's phone conversation with FOX 19 NOW, a recorded voice stated "If you consent to this call being recorded and if you wish to accept this call as a collect call dial 1 now."

Combined Public Communications based in Northern Kentucky runs the inmate phone service for both Boone and Butler County jails. According to their website, they have the capability to not only record calls but listen in live, even Google the residential address for the phone number listed.

[View the official court document here]

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