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A federal judge today denied a request for televised coverage of the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only man charged in the Sept. 11 attacks. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia 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 Court TV 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 worldwide broadcasting of this trial would pose to the orderly and secure administration of justice,” the judge said in a written order. Moussaoui’s lawyer, Edward MacMahon Jr., had told an earlier hearing that his client supported a televised trial 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 later in the day unless the jury was sequestered — kept in a secure location under control of U.S. marshals. MacMahon had no comment on the order, saying Moussaoui had asked his three attorneys not to comment on the case. Moussaoui stands accused of six conspiracy counts of being an accomplice to the Sept. 11 attacks and could receive the death penalty if convicted. Betsy Vorce, spokeswoman for Court TV, said the network would decide early next week whether to appeal. Court TV chief executive Henry Schleiff said he was optimistic that Congress would soon pass legislation permitting cameras in federal courts, subject to the trial judge’s discretion. The public affairs cable network that joined the Court TV motion, C-SPAN, said it would not join any appeal but would continue to fight the ban in the future. Brinkema had said she was concerned that television could have a chilling effect on witnesses at the trail. The Justice Department contended a worldwide broadcast “might assist al-Qaida in retaliating against the witnesses who testify against it.” Televised images of the trial, set to begin Sept. 30, “are forever out there,” she said at a recent hearing. “It does pose a security risk. If witnesses felt that photographs would be out there, that could be a chilling problem.” Lee Levine, arguing for the Court TV and C-SPAN, had contended the federal ban on cameras was unconstitutional. The right to observe a trial should not be limited to a few dozen spectators crammed into a courtroom, Levine said. “Television is … a normal part of the courtroom procedure.” Moussaoui, a Frenchman of Moroccan descent, had joined Court TV in asking for broadcast of his trial. Court TV had argued that a federal ban on TV cameras in the courtroom was unconstitutional. Brinkema said in her order Friday that the public’s right to access to the trial would be satisfied because some members of both the public and the news media would be able to attend. Daily transcripts will be electronically available. She said the presence of spectators, jurors and a judge would ensure the integrity of the trial. “Significant concerns about the security of trial participants and the integrity of the fact-finding process justify a ban on photographing and broadcasting this trial,” Brinkema wrote. Televising the trial would probably “intimidate witnesses and jurors, as well as threaten the security of the courtroom and all those involved in this trial,” she wrote. Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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