The Contra Costa Times reports:
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that government investigators illegally wiretapped the phone conversations of an Islamic charity and two American lawyers without a search warrant.
U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker said the plaintiffs have provided enough evidence to show “they were subjected to warrantless electronic surveillance.”
At issue was a 2006 lawsuit challenging the Bush administration’s so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program. The lawsuit was filed by the Ashland, Ore. branch of the Saudi-based Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation and two American lawyers Wendell Belew and Asim Ghafoor.
Belew and Ghafoor claimed their 2004 phone conversation with a foundation official, Soliman al-Buthi, was wiretapped soon after the Treasury Department had declared the charity branch a supporter of terrorism.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the lawsuit threatens to expose ongoing intelligence work and must be thrown out.