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Court TV Denied Bid to Air Trial

January 19, 2002|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A federal judge Friday denied a request for televised coverage of the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said she would not set aside a ban on photographing and broadcasting federal criminal proceedings. The ban "does not violate the constitutional rights of either the public or the broadcast media," she said.

Brinkema also cited security concerns in denying the request by the Court TV cable network to televise the trial in Alexandria, Va.

"Given the issues raised in the indictment, any societal benefits from photographing and broadcasting these proceedings are heavily outweighed by the significant dangers [that] worldwide broadcasting of this trial would pose to the orderly and secure administration of justice," the judge wrote.

Moussaoui's lawyer, Edward MacMahon Jr., told an earlier hearing that his client supported a televised trial, though with some restrictions. Television, he said, would provide Moussaoui with "an added layer of protection" for a fair trial. The defense did not want replays during each trial day unless the jury was sequestered.

MacMahon had no comment concerning the order, citing a request by his client. Moussaoui is accused of six conspiracy counts of being an accomplice to the Sept. 11 attacks. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Court TV spokeswoman Betsy Vorce said the network would decide early next week whether to appeal. Court TV chief executive Henry Schleiff said he is optimistic that Congress will soon pass legislation permitting cameras in federal courts, subject to the trial judge's discretion.

C-SPAN, the public affairs cable network that joined the Court TV motion, said it will not join any appeal but will continue to fight such bans in the future.

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