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NJ attorney general: NYPD surveillance of Muslims was legal

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 6:37 PM EDT, Thu May 24, 2012
Muslim community leaders hold a news conference in February at Rutgers University to address police surveillance of Muslims.
Muslim community leaders hold a news conference in February at Rutgers University to address police surveillance of Muslims.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Muslim-owned business, mosques and student groups were monitored
  • Muslim leaders had called for an investigation after report became public
  • Neward Mayor Corey Booker said probe "clearly crosses a line"
  • Booker said his police were not involved in NYPD joint operation

New York (CNN) -- New York City police didn't violate New Jersey state laws when they carried out surveillance programs of Muslim-owned business, mosques and university student groups, according to a Thursday statement from the New Jersey attorney general's office.

The findings are the product of a three-month review meant to address concerns expressed by Muslim community leaders, who had instead called for a formal investigation.

Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said law enforcement officials are expected to meet regularly with the NYPD "to exchange information concerning counter-terrorism intelligence and operations," and establish more formal protocols for out-of-state policing.

Chiesa's office said it will also establish a "Muslim outreach committee in order to enhance communication and encourage a greater understanding regarding issues of importance to both law enforcement and the Muslim community."

A 60-page report obtained by The Associated Press showed NYPD maps of Newark, New Jersey, and photographs of Muslim residences and mosques. There was no statement in the document regarding terrorism or criminal activity.

After the report was made public, Newark Mayor Corey Booker called for an investigation.

"The Newark Police Department was not involved in joint operations with the New York Police Department as was described in the disclosed NYPD report," Booker said, referring to a leaked internal New York police document.

"I strongly believe that we must be vigilant in protecting our citizens from crime and terrorism, but to put large segments of a religious community under surveillance with no legitimate cause or provocation clearly crosses a line," he said.

New York police spokesman Paul Browne said their Newark counterparts were "briefed before and afterwards, and a Newark liaison officer accompanied NYPD personnel when they were in Newark."

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg also defended the extent of police surveillance against critics who have suggested that authorities went too far.

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