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Lawyers for Mohamed Mohamud, a U.S. citizen who lived in Oregon, have been denied a motion to dismiss his terrorism conviction, with the court affirming the legality of the U.S. government’s bulk phone and e-mail data collection of foreign nationals living overseas. Mohamud’s defense team claimed the surveillance violated his constitutional rights, and that federal prosecutors did not make available to the defense evidence obtained via the surveillance.
U.S. District Judge Garr King upheld Mohamud’s conviction, saying that suppressing the evidence collected “and a new trial would put defendant in the same position he would have been in if the government notified him of the (surveillance) at the start of the case. Dismissal is not warranted here.”
Mohamud was convicted in 2013 of attempting to detonate a car bomb at Portland’s 2010 Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, in what was actually an FBI sting.
The U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) permits the government to collect information on foreign nationals “reasonably believed” to be outside the United States even if the data incidentally includes communication between U.S. citizens and suspects in other countries. According to theOregonian, Mohamud was found to be communicating with two terror suspects who happened to be U.S. citizens, Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, both of whom were killed in drone strikes in Yemen in 2011 after they were declared enemy combatants by the Justice Department.