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Court Overturns Sharing Of FISA Surveillance With Defense Lawyers

The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a landmark order that required the government to share secret intelligence with defense lawyers.

NPR's Carrie Johnson reports that the three-judge panel in Chicago found that the Department of Justice had acted properly in the case, which involved 20-year-old Adel Daoud, who is accused of trying to set off a car bomb in Chicago in 2012.

His defense lawyers have demanded access to the government's secret wiretap applications, saying they needed to see the documents in order to guarantee a fair trial for their client.

Initially, a lower court judge agreed, ordering a first-ever such disclosure under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.

The Justice Department appealed the lower court ruling and the 7 th Circuit Appeals Court threw its weight behind the government, Carrie says, saying there are "compelling" reasons to keep material classified. The federal court said the lower court judge had "disobeyed" the FISA statute when she ruled.

The Associated Press called the federal court's ruling "unusually quick" as it came "just a week after oral arguments in a case that touches on surveillance issues raised by one-time government contractor Edward Snowden."

"The reversal is a victory for the government. The appeals court says that letting Adel Daoud's lawyers see the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court records could damage national security."

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