jokah.com

27Jan/040

Citing Free Speech, Judge Voids Part of Antiterror Act.

At issue was a provision in the act, passed by Congress after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that expanded previous antiterrorism law to prohibit anyone from providing "expert advice or assistance" to known terrorist groups. The measure was part of a broader set of prohibitions that the administration has relied heavily on in prosecuting people in Lackawanna, N.Y., Portland, Ore., Detroit and elsewhere accused of providing money, training, Internet services and other "material support" to terrorist groups.

In Los Angeles, several humanitarian groups that work with Kurdish refugees in Turkey and Tamil residents of Sri Lanka had sued the government, arguing in a lawsuit that the antiterrorism act was so ill defined that they had stopped writing political material and helping organize peace conferences for fear that they would be prosecuted.

Judge Collins agreed that the ban on providing advice and assistance to terrorists was "impermissibly vague" and blocked the Justice Department from enforcing it against the plaintiffs.

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