October 24, 2010 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - In a still developing story a Fifth Circuit panel has determined that the government acted improperly in naming the North American Islamic Trust, and apparently many other American Muslim organizations as unindicted co-conspirators during the hard fought Holy Land Foundation prosecution.
"According to the appeals ruling, the government acknowledged that not sealing the list was an oversight, and further said that by titling the list with the double designation "co-conspirator/joint venturer" it was not necessarily ascribing involvement in criminal activity to the listed groups." [source, http://www.jta.org/news/article/2010/10/22/2741407/court-removes-coconspirator-tag-from-muslim-groups]
Politico quoting the decision:
"The [district] court held that NAIT's motion was properly filed and its Fifth Amendment right had been violated by its public naming," Appeals Court Judge Emilio Garza wrote for a unanimous panel including Judges Fortunato Benavides and Marcia Crone. "The Court held that the Government did not argue or establish any legitimate government interest that warranted publicly identifying NAIT and 245 other individuals and entities as unindicted coconspirators or joint venturers, and that the Government had less injurious means than those employed, such as anonymously designating the unindicted co-conspirators as 'other persons,' asking the court to file the document under seal, or disclosing the information to the defendants pursuant to a protective order." [source, Josh Gerstein, Judge: Feds violated U.S. Islamic group's rights, Politico, http://www.politico.com/blogs/joshgerstein/1010/Judge_Feds_violated_Islamic_groups_rights.html]
It appears that none of the formerly listed groups were party to this lawsuit, though they could be positively affected by the ruling as this process goes forward.
Chief prosecutor in HLF - James Jacks - was not available for possible comment when contacted by Politico who broke the story.
It has been reported that the feds are mulling over their options regarding a possible appeal. The full implications of this decision are as yet undetermined, though it may well remove the taint that the former federal designation had on many prominent American Muslim groups.
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