A terror suspect is challenging the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program, saying in a court document filed Wednesday that spying by the federal government has gone too far.
In the motion filed in federal court in Denver with help from the American Civil Liberties Union, Jamshid Muhtorov also requested that prosecutors disclose more about how surveillance law was used in his case. Muhtorov denies the terror charges he faces.
Surveillance under current law “is exceptionally intrusive and it is conducted by executive officers who enjoy broad authority to decide whom to monitor, when and for how long,” Muhtorov argued in his motion.
“The statue that authorized the surveillance is unconstitutional,” Muhtorov said, citing constitutional provisions against unreasonable search and seizure.
The ACLU called the filing the first of its kind.
Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon declined to comment.
The challenge had been expected after the Justice Department in October said it intended to use information gleaned from one of the NSA’s warrantless surveillance programs against Muhtorov. It was the first time the department had made such a disclosure.
The U.S. Supreme Court has so far turned aside challenges to the law on the grounds that people who bring such lawsuits have no evidence they are being targeted.
In another case involving the government’s surveillance methods, a federal judge in a Chicago terrorism case ruled Wednesday that a defendant’s lawyers will be given access to an application prosecutors submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, established to monitor spying within in the United States. The Chicago judge called her pretrial ruling in the case of Adel Daoud a first. Daoud has denied seeking to detonate a bomb in Chicago in 2012.
In the Denver case, Muhtorov was accused in 2012 of providing material support to an Uzbek terrorist organization active in Afghanistan.
According to Wednesday’s motion, Muhtorov was targeted by the Uzbek government because of his work with human rights groups in his homeland. He fled and resettled in Aurora, Colo., in 2007, as a political refugee and became a legal permanent U.S. resident.
Muhtorov was arrested Jan. 21, 2012, in Chicago with about $2,800 in cash, two shrink-wrapped iPhones and an iPad as well as a GPS device. In March 2012, his attorney, federal public defender Brian Leedy, said at a court hearing that Muhtorov denied the allegations and had been headed to the Uzbekistan region to visit family, including a sister who remains imprisoned in that country.