Damra Appeal

ACLU urges court to reject FBI secrecy in Damra wiretap

A federal appeals court in Cincinnati today begins hearing an appeal by the leader of Ohio's largest mosque of his conviction for hiding terrorist ties while applying for US citizenship. Attorneys for imam Fawaz Damra want the Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals to grant Damra a new trial and allow them to contest wiretap evidence in a suppression hearing. The lawyers say they are skeptical about the FBI's claim that it began the surveillance operation to obtain foreign intelligence information. In a brief filed with the court, the American Civil Liberties Union contends the FBI should be forced to reveal why intelligence agents gathered covert evidence against Damra. It has not been made clear when or why the government began to target the 44-year-old Muslim cleric, and the Justice Department has fought all attempts by Damra's lawyers to examine the application for the wiretaps. The Palestinian-born Damra, leader of the Islamic Center of Cleveland, was convicted on June 17th and sentenced to two months in federal prison and four months of house arrest.