Tuesday, August 7, 2007

New York police must turn over surveillance reports

Tuesday Aug 7, 2007

The New York Police Department must release undercover police reports on protester activity planned for the 2004 Republican National Convention, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

The ruling came in response to two lawsuits filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union for protesters.

The police department argued the arrests were justified due to information gleaned from a surveillance operation by undercover officers who attended protester meetings before the convention, but have not released the details.

In an affidavit in May, NYPD intelligence division head David Cohen argued the reports were protected by law enforcement privilege and releasing the reports would identify undercover officers and jeopardize undercover investigations.

But on Monday U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis said field intelligence reports could be redacted so as to not reveal "the identities of undercover officers or disclosing confidential NYPD tactics and strategies."

In response to the ruling, NYCLU lawyer Chris Dunn called the police surveillance of political activity "troubling."

The judge ruled other documents on the NYPD's plans and strategies for the convention did not have to be released.

A police department spokesman did not immediately comment.

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