06 26 03
US judge considers McKevitt request
26/06/2003 - 5:44:33 pm
A US judge has agreed to consider a request from lawyers for an alleged Irish terrorist for transcripts of interviews in which an FBI undercover agent talked to reporters.
Chicago Judge Ronald Guzman said it was possible the transcripts could be essential to the defence of Michael McKevitt, who is on trial in Dublin on terrorism charges.
“A person on trial for a serious criminal offence has a right to defend himself,” Guzman said.
“I’ll make a decision as soon as I can,” the judge told lawyers for McKevitt and reporters Abdon Pallasch and Robert Herguth of the Chicago Sun-Times and Flynn McRoberts of the Chicago Tribune.
Lawyers for the three reporters claim the content of the tapes is privileged under the US constitution and an Illinois law, which allows reporters to keep some of the information they gather confidential.
McKevitt lawyer John Boyd told Judge Guzman his client’s lawyers at the trial want the transcripts in hope that what undercover agent David Rupert told the reporters will show he is not a credible witness.
The tapes were made as part of a book project initially undertaken by Pallasch and McRoberts, lawyers said. They said McRoberts withdrew from the project and Herguth took his place.
Pallasch lawyer Kathleen Roach said the Irish court has declined to make any statement on whether the transcripts would be of value in the case, despite a request from McKevitt’s defence team.
She said the request for the transcripts was “purely speculative and a fishing expedition” on the part of McKevitt’s defence.
Illinois’ shield law allows reporters to keep materials confidential unless they are deemed essential and are not available from another source.
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