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As US Urges Banning Public From CIA Leaks Trial of Schulte Inner City Press Files Opposition

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Decrypt - LightRead - Honduras - Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Jan 22 – For the upcoming trial of accused CIA leaker Joshua Schulte, US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman is asking to have the public excluded from the courtroom during the testimony of several CIA witnesses.

On January 21, District Judge Paul A. Crotty scheduled a public hearing on Berman's request, to be held on January 27 in the run-up to the trial scheduled to begin February 3. Inner City Press will be there for both.   

  And now on January 22, Inner City Press has submitted a preliminary opposition to sealing to Judge Crotty and his Courtroom Deputy, copies to the US Attorney and Federal Defender:

January 22, 2020 

Hon. Paul A. Crotty, United States District Judge Southern District of New York 500 Pearl Street New York, NY 10007 
Re: Press Access to United States v. Schulte, S2 17 Cr. 548 (PAC) 

Dear Judge Crotty:      Thank you for your January 21, 2020 order in the above-captioned case, putting the press and public on notice of the Government's request to seal your courtroom during the testimony of certain CIA witnesses.  Inner City Press has been reporting daily on Southern District of New York cases, with a focus on criminal proceedings, since November 2018. As you may remember, on July 22, 2019 I entered your courtroom to report on US v. Perlson, 18-cr-751 (PAC).    

After a sidebar discussion I have still not seen the transcript of, Your Honor directed me to leave your courtroom. You indicated that the transcript would or could become available in a month's time. Therefore unlike in certain other SDNY cases before other District Judges, Inner City Press did not write to Your Honor, but waited.     But today six months later, not only is the transcript not available: the case, listed on July 22, 2019 as 18-cr-751 (PAC), results from a PACER query in "Cannot find case 18-cr-751."    

That should be addressed, and in connection with US v. Schulte, which Inner City Press is also covering, we opposed the sealing of the courtroom. In recent months when the case has been listed in PACER's event calendar, I have often found your courtroom 14C locked, with no indication where the proceeding was moved to. No notice was provided.    

US v. Schulte, given the alleged whistleblowing, privacy and conditions of confinement issues, is a matter of public concern. At the earliest time, we oppose the sealing of your courtroom.    

While Inner City Press anticipates submitted a supplemental comment once the Government provides more disclosure of its proposal to seal the courtroom, with case law, we ask that this opposition be placed in the ECF docket and that the above be addressed by Your Honor.  Respectfully submitted,  Matthew Russell Lee Inner City Press

Schulte has been charged to providing WikiLeaks with information about the CIA's hacking activities, which WikiLeaks subsequently published in its "Vault7" trove.

Since then Schulte has been accused of further dissemination of information from the Metropolitan Correctional Center, and put into solitary confinement there.   

For months Inner City Press, even as it has complained about being unceremoniously ordered to leave certain courtrooms including that of Judge Crotty, has observed lawyers headed to the "SCIF" on the ninth floor of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York at 500 Pearl Street.  

 One of Schulte's lawyers, Sabrina Shroff who also represented former Senegal foreign minister Cheikh Gadio in a UN bribery trial Inner City Press covered, has indicted she was constrained in what she could say. She has complied with all rules, however restrictive. But information wants to be free.    

  As noted in its January 22 letter, on July 22, 2019 Inner City Press went to Judge Crotty's courtroom for the case US v. Perlson but was told by Judge Crotty to leave. Inner City Press said, "I am a reporter. If you are going to try to close a public courtroom there must be specific findings, for specific portions. There is case law."  Inner City Press pointed out US v. Haller, 837 F.2d 84, 87 (before closing a proceeding to which the First Amendment right of access attaches, the judge should make specific, on the record findings demonstrate that closure is essential to preserve higher values and is narrowly tailored to serve that interest). 

 There followed a sidebar, apparently transcribed, from which Inner City Press was excluded. At the end Judge Crotty while ordering Inner City Press to leave said that the government's case was moving along well and that he hoped to unseal the transcript in a month. 

 Six months later, the case still shows up as "cannot find case" in PACER.

Often when the Schulte case has appeared in the day's Events Calendar in PACER, with proceeding scheduled for Judge Crotty's Courtroom 14C, Inner City Press has gone, only to find the courtroom door locked.  

Now, at least on January 27, the door will be open. Inner City Press will be there, and while hoping to live tweet from right there, will publish a full article immediately after. Watch this site. 


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