Publication Date: 05 July 2003
FBI to check Rupert tapes
By Sean O'Driscoll
FBI agents in Chicago are to spend the weekend editing tapes of conversations with Real IRA informant, David Rupert, before they are due to be handed over to lawyers representing alleged Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt on Monday.
Three Chicago journalists who were writing a book on Mr Rupert's life were forced to give copies of the tapes to Mr McKevitt's lawyers after they lost a legal appeal on Thursday.
However, the FBI is to vet the tapes over the weekend to ensure that they do not contain any classified information or information that might damage US national security.
Mr Rupert had been paid by the FBI to infiltrate the Real IRA and is under the agency's witness protection program.
Two of the three journalists, Abdon Pallasch and Robert Herguth, both of the Chicago Sun-Times, handed over the tapes to an FBI attorney yesterday outside a federal building in downtown Chicago.
Afterwards, Mr Pallasch expressed his deep disappointment that he had been forced to hand over the tapes on US Independence Day, a day when Americans celebrate personal freedoms.
"Being forced to give the FBI tapes of us and our source speaking on and off the record is not the way we would like to celebrate the 4th of July," he said.
A District Court judge, Ronald Guzman, had ruled on Wednesday that the three must hand over the tapes to Mr McKevitt's lawyers, but the journalists refused to hand them over until an appeal had been heard.
Mr McKevitt's legal team warned on Thursday that the men could have faced jail and fines of $$1,000 a day if they had not handed over the tapes. However, the three journalists lost their appeal at the 7th Circuit Appeal Court in Chicago later that day and handed the tapes over to the FBI.
The FBI requested copies of the tapes after US government attorneys made legal submissions to Judge Guzman late last week saying that the tapes may contain information that could put lives at risk or damage U.S national security.
Mr Rupert, a prosecution witness at Mr McKevitt's trial at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin, was interviewed by the two journalists and Flynn McRoberts of the Chicago Tribune.
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