Judge Rejects Televising Terrorist Trial

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A U.S. District Court judge has ruled that the trial of alleged terrorist
Zacarias Moussaoui will not be televised.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema Jan. 18 comes as a blow
to Courtroom Television Network and C-SPAN, both of which had petitioned the
federal court to allow the trial, slated to begin Sept. 30, to be broadcast.

The Department of Justice contended that televising the trial could help al
Qaeda to retaliate against witnesses testifying against its operatives.

Moussaoui -- whose legal representatives had also argued for TV coverage of
the proceedings to help guarantee a fair trial -- faces six indictments charging
him with conspiring with al Qaeda on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He faces a
possible death sentence.

'Significant concerns about the security of trial participants and the
integrity of the fact-finding process justify a ban on photographing and
broadcasting this trial,' Brinkema wrote.

Following Brinkema's decision, Court TV chairman and CEO Henry Schleiff
issued the following statement: 'Court TV appreciates U.S. District Judge Leonie
M. Brinkema's serious consideration of this important decision and her
willingness to hold a hearing to discuss the petition's merits. Most important,
we understand and fully endorse Judge Brinkema's judgment that the issue of
camera access in federal courts most properly belongs before the United States
Congress.'

He continued, 'Given the growing public consensus and favorable experience in
the majority of states that allow cameras in their courtrooms, we are optimistic
that the United States Congress will soon pass legislation permitting cameras in
our federal courts subject, however, to the sole discretion of the trial
judge.'

Schleiff added, 'Such a law by Congress would be entirely consistent with
Judge Brinkema's opinion and, in the vast majority of cases, would provide our
citizens with the benefits of seeing our magnificent system of justice at
work.'

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