A man charged with aiding a terrorist organization has asked a U.S. court to throw out information collected by the National Security Agency, saying the NSA's surveillance of his Internet communications violates the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Jamshid Muhtorov, a native of Uzbekistan who has lived in Colorado since 2007, filed papers Wednesday asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado to throw out evidence collected by the NSA in a program targeting the Internet communications of people linked to foreign terrorist organizations.
Muhtorov's challenge to the NSA program, which operates under the authority of the FISA Amendments Act, was supported by the Federal Public Defender's Office, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Colorado. The program violates the Fourth Amendment, protecting U.S. residents against unreasonable searches and seizures, the groups argued.
"The FISA Amendments Act affords the government virtually unfettered access to the international phone calls and emails of U.S. citizens and residents," ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement. "We've learned over the last few months that the NSA has implemented the law in the broadest possible way, and that the rules that supposedly protect the privacy of innocent people are weak and riddled with exceptions."
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Muhtorov was arrested in January 2012 and charged with providing and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
The charges connect Muhtorov, a former human rights advocate who was admitted to the U.S. as a political refugee, to the Islamic Jihad Union, a resistance group opposed to the Uzbek regime.
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment on Muhtorov's challenge.
The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed an ACLU lawsuit challenging the FISA Amendments Act last February on the grounds that the ACLU's plaintiffs, including Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch and The Nation magazine, could not prove the NSA had collected their communications. Muhtorov is the first criminal defendant to have received notice that he was monitored under the FISA Amendments Act.
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.