NEW YORK – Defense lawyers for a man who is accused of the murder of eight persons in a New York City terrorist attack, said in a court filing Monday that the U.S. had their client under surveillance and perhaps illegal for years.
The lawyers in the partially redacted filing in Manhattan federal court demanded more information from prosecutors about how they knew so much about Sayfullo Saipov after they arrested him immediately after the Oct. 31, 2017 attack.
They said the researchers’ years-long tapping of a conversation between an individual and Saipov, the day before Saipov’s arrest.
“The government’s allegations do not recommend the use of several secret monitoring methods in this case,” they wrote.
“Mr. Saipov international electronic communications and other online activities can easily be sucked up by the government’s dragnet collection of content and metadata, either by means of bulk surveillance or by means of individuals abroad,” the lawyers wrote.
“All the electronic communications it had with possible ISIS agents, members, or sympathizers, the rest of the world (as well as representatives, members and sympathizers of the other designated foreign terrorist organizations) were very likely to be intercepted,” she added.
They demand more AMERICAN disclosure to defend Saipov in a case in which prosecutors seek death.
Saipov has pleaded not guilty to charges that he drove a truck down a Manhattan bike path on Halloween in 2017, which is more than cyclists, before crashing his vehicle into a school bus. He was shot by a police officer and arrested on the scene.
Saipov, a trial next year, moved to the United States legally in 2010 from Uzbekistan. He lived in Ohio and Florida and worked as a commercial truck driver living with his family in Paterson, New Jersey.
Court papers say that after his arrest, he told the authorities he was inspired by a Islamic State group’s video and that he have a truck in the attack to inflict maximum damage against civilians.
A spokeswoman for the public prosecutor’s office refused to comment Monday.
Defense lawyers say they suspect that the surveillance was swept up with the help of a rule to allow communication of AMERICAN citizens to be monitored abroad.
The lawyers said more information about how the U.S. government learned so much about Saipov, communication is of crucial importance was to defend him against the death penalty.
A full investigation of Saipov, the moral debt will be to know whether others share in the blame for the events because they affected Saipov’s behavior, according to the defense filing.
Prosecutors revealed in November, they had looked Saipov and two of his staff for years, the record of his conversations with them to learn about his personal contacts, finance, and the potential exposure to the Islamic State group propaganda, violent jihadism and Islamic extremism, the defense lawyers said.
They said prosecutors have not disclose more details in part on the ground that Saipov was never an investigative purpose and draining evidence will not be introduced in the process.
The defense lawyers said the government’s refusal to reveal exactly how it got its information about Saipov “unfair isolates investigative techniques actually used in this case of legal challenge and judicial oversight.”