Prosecutors must produce memos by high-ranking U.S. Department of Justice officials on the transfers of an accused terrorist because they might explain why he was kept out of the criminal justice system for almost five years, a federal judge has ruled.

Southern District of New York Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, in an opinion unsealed Wednesday, ruled on Jan. 21 that the discovery obligations of prosecutors extend to the memos because Justice Department officials can rightly be considered part of the “government” within the meaning of Rule 16 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure.

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