For the first time, DOJ will inform defendant about evidence derived from warrantless surveillance

The U.S. Justice Department is preparing to notify a criminal defendant that evidence against him was derived from warrantless surveillance—a first for the DOJ.

The decision to disclose follows an internal Justice Department debate about the need to disclose such evidence, the New York Times reports in a story based on anonymous sources. The debate began as Edward Snowden leaked details about the data collection program in June.

U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli had supported disclosure.

The department is also sifting through case files, both active and closed, to find other defendants prosecuted with evidence from warrantless surveillance.

Before the change in stance, prosecutors did not disclose when information from warrantless surveillance supported wiretap orders that produced evidence in a case. Officials in the DOJ’s national security division believed they needed only to disclose phone calls and emails gathered directly from the warrantless surveillance.

The disclosures could give defendants standing to challenge the 2008 warrantless wiretap law, the FISA Amendments Act.

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