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A lawyer representing a Guantanamo Bay detainee is challenging government prohibitions that restrict access and use of WikiLeaks documents in pending litigation in Washington federal district court. David Remes of Appeal for Justice, the human rights and civil liberties firm in Maryland, sought permission in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to “view, download, print, copy, disseminate and discuss” WikiLeaks documents. Remes, who represents a detainee named Saifullah Paracha, wants to respond publicly to government accusations in WikiLeaks documents that he said paint his client “in the most sinister light.” Remes filed his application in April. Last month, the U.S. Justice Department issued guidance to lawyers handling habeas cases in Washington federal district court addressing the use of WikiLeaks documents. Private attorneys are allowed to view and discuss WikiLeaks material, DOJ said, but they cannot print, save or disseminate the information. Remes said in a written response July 1 that the government prohibitions are overbroad. “Indeed, it appears that counsel may not even take notes as he views the documents, reducing his access to a mere peek,” Remes said in court papers. The distinction the government makes between permitted and prohibited activity, Remes said, is untenable “because all of the activities involve exactly the same information.” Justice Department lawyers said in a recent filing in Washington federal district court that the government will not confirm or deny the authenticity of WikiLeaks documents. DOJ said the “unfettered” public use of the documents “could be interpreted as confirmation (or denial) of the documents¹ contents by an individual in position of knowledge, with corresponding harm to national security.” Regardless of the government¹s claims, Remes said, the Justice Department “has not shown that allowing habeas counsel to download, print, copy, or disseminate the Wikileaks documents could give rise to any inference of official acknowledgment, or that these activities are different from that standpoint than the activities that are allowed.” “The distinctions,” Remes said, “are artificial and the prohibitions are unjustified.” Senior Judge Paul Friedman of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has not ruled on the dispute. Mike Scarcella can be contacted at [email protected] .

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