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Published: Tuesday, 5/2/2006

Court urged to bar release of photos of terror-case source

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Federal prosecutors yesterday asked Judge James Carr to order the attorneys of three suspected terrorists not to disseminate photographs of a paid source who provided inside information to investigators.

The order to protect the identity of the informant, Darren L. Griffin, would apply to the attorneys representing the Toledo-area men who were arrested in February and charged in a scheme to kill U.S. and allied troops overseas.

Mr. Griffin, 40, of Toledo, was dubbed "The Trainer" in the federal indictment that accused Mohammad Zaki Amawi, Marwan Othman El-Hindi, and Wassim I. Mazloum of conspiring to commit terrorist activities.

The motion for the protective order filed in U.S. District Court in Toledo requested that the attorneys be barred from distributing images or photos of Mr. Griffin that would be made available to them as part of trial preparation work.

Thomas Getz, assistant U.S. attorney, said in the motion the order was needed because of the potential risk of harm to Mr. Griffin and his family as well as in the interests of a fair trial.

The motion referred to an article published last week in the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer that reported Mr. Griffin declared bankruptcy in 1999.

It included a photo of Mr. Griffin taken in 2004 during a Veterans' Day program at a Washington Local elementary school. The motion said the original photo, which included veterans from American Legion posts, was posted on the school district's Web site.

Wendy Farran, coordinator of school information, said the photo in question was still available at the Web site and posted last year for a school calendar. She said a printed version of the calendar was sent last year to about 22,500 residents who live in the district.

She said federal prosecutors have not asked the district to remove the photograph from the Web site. "If someone asks me to remove it, I will comply. But the calendar is still out in the community," she said.

One of Mr. El-Hindi's attorneys, Stephen Hartman, who was quoted in the Plain Dealer questioning Mr. Griffin's motives in working as a paid informant, said yesterday that a motion opposing the request for the protective order would be filed. "I think it is ridiculous. I don't really like the idea of keeping it secret. Frankly, we are trying to flush out a liar," Mr. Hartman said.

Also yesterday, Dennis Terez, a federal public defender who represents Mr. Amawi, filed a motion with the court seeking permission to meet with his client at the federal prison in Milan, Mich., where all three defendants are being held.

Mr. Terez said a request for a visit he wanted for today was denied by prison officials on April 28 because of "unspecified concerns."

In the motion, Mr. Terez said his client's mother and brother left their driver's licenses with prison authorities during an earlier visit, and the documents were gone when they went to leave. "It has been tentatively determined that the identifications were shredded," Mr. Terez wrote.

No orders have been issued by Judge Carr.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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