Leak adds wrinkle to terror trial

Published January 23, 2007

MIAMI - The leak of transcripts of Jose Padilla's intercepted telephone conversations by a defense lawyer to the New York Times violated a court order and could jeopardize selection of an impartial jury, federal prosecutors said Monday.

"There is no question that the disclosure was calculated and deliberate, with the effect of exposing potential jurors to evidence before it is introduced at trial when both sides will have the opportunity to argue its significance," prosecutors said in court papers.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke has scheduled a hearing Wednesday on the issue, the latest in a string of complications to arise in the case of the alleged al-Qaida operative.

Padilla, 36, a U.S. citizen, is charged with being part of a North American cell. Originally accused of plotting a radioactive "dirty bomb" attack after his 2002 arrest, Padilla was designated an enemy combatant and held without criminal charge at a Navy brig for 3 1/2 years.

He was added to an existing Miami terrorism-support case in late 2005 during a legal battle over the president's wartime detention powers.

Three Miami-based public defenders representing Padilla - Michael Caruso, Anthony Natale and Orlando do Campo - admitted in court papers that "one of Jose Padilla's counsel" provided the transcripts to a Times reporter for a story published Jan. 4. The lawyer responsible was not identified.