LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES
Alleged 9/11 Conspirator Wins Court Victory
Aired August 29, 2003 - 19:01 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: A good evening to you. I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for being with us on this Friday evening.
We begin tonight with late breaking news, what may be a major development in the case against accused September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.
Kelli Arena is following the story from our Washington bureau.
Kelli, what's the latest?
KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, CNN has learned that Moussaoui has won an important court victory, granting him access to two key al Qaeda operatives including the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks.
Now, according to sources who have seen the ruling, which remains under seal, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema granted Moussaoui's request for testimony from al Qaeda leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Mustafa Hawsawi, an alleged al Qaeda financier.
Moussaoui believes the two have information that could clear him of any involvement in 9/11.
Now, you may remember this very issue is already holding up the Moussaoui case. The same judge ruled that Moussaoui could have access to another al Qaeda operative, Ramzi Binalshibh, whom Moussaoui says could also help clear him.
The judge said then that Moussaoui should have access to a witness with pertinent evidence. But the government defied order, that arguing that Binalshibh was outside the court's purview because he's being held overseas as a military combatant during a war and is undergoing interrogation.
The same is true for both Mohammed and Moussaoui. The government is likely to appeal this latest ruling, as well -- Anderson.
COOPER: It's possible the judge could even throw this case out. Throw it out of court. How big a victory is this for Moussaoui?
ARENA: It is a very, very big victory. And as you know, Anderson, the government has vehemently opposed any access to any al Qaeda detainee.
And legal experts have said all along that when push comes to a shove, if they are forced to prove any of these detainees, they may very well pull Moussaoui out of the court system and place him in military custody as an enemy combatant. That's something the Justice Department has really tried very hard not to do to prove that it can handle these cases in our judicial system, but they may be forced.
COOPER: All right. Kelli Arena, thanks for the updates and breaking stories.
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