Government wins major spy ruling in Chicago terror case

August 28, 2013 (CHICAGO)

A federal judge in Chicago late Wednesday ruled accused teen terrorist Adel Daoud does not have a right to the surveillance that is being used against him. That secret evidence triggered an FBI investigation that led to terrorism charges against the Hillside teenager. On Wednesday, Daoud remains locked up at the MCC-Chicago, awaiting trial on charges that his attorney has said can't be fairly defended without seeing the evidence.

Hillside teenager Adel Daoud is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction-- what he thought was a car bomb-- to blow up this downtown bar near the federal lock-up. But it was a plot largely engineered by the FBI, during which the teenager is accused of taking the bait.

At the suspect's home, and elsewhere, federal agents covertly recorded phone conversations and internet communications. Since Daoud's arrest a year ago, prosecutors have said that evidence must be held in secret, from both the public and the defendant, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, in use since 9/11 and intended to intercept terror plots from overseas.

"So, what would normally in a routine case be not classified evidence becomes classified evidence in a terrorism-related case because the surveillance is usually done by an intelligence agency, be it the FBI, the CIA or the NSA or something like that," Thomas Durkin, Daoud's attorney, said on October 11, 2012.

Daoud's attorney had asked the court to force prosecutors to release the basis for gathering evidence against the terror suspect.

On Wednesday in a short posting on the court's electronic records site, the motion has been denied by Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman. Judge Coleman stated only that she relies on the government's position that it doesn't plan to use spy evidence at trial; the information is considered classified and the defendant is not entitled to it.

As the I-Team first reported, Daoud's legal defense team says it first learned of the spy campaign against the Hillside teen from the floor of the U.S. Senate when Diane Feinstein used it as a debate example.

The Daoud case is being watched closely by civil liberties groups and lawyers who represent terror suspects. Wednesday's ruling in favor of continued government secrecy comes against the backdrop of the NSA spying program that has stirred debate over individual privacy rights and national security concerns.

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