Trials & Litigation

Feds Must Pay Islamic Charity Lawyers and Their Counsel $2.5M in Warrantless Wiretap Case


The chief federal district court judge in San Francisco has ordered the federal government to pay more than $2.5 million, primarily in attorney’s fees, concerning its warrantless wiretap, under an executive surveillance program authorized by President George W. Bush, of two Washington, D.C., lawyers for a now-shuttered Islamic charity in Oregon.

Judge Vaughan Walker yesterday awarded $20,400 each in damages to attorneys Asim Ghafoor and Wendell Belew, and nothing to the charity, Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, according to the New York Times (reg. req.) and the SF Appeal.

He also declined to award punitive damages, saying that the investigators responsible for the wiretapping didn’t act in bad faith.

However, he gave the eight lawyers who have represented Ghafoor and Belew for five years $2.5 million in attorney’s fees and another $22,000 in costs.

“The system worked,” Ghafoor tells the Associated Press. “And we really hope that the government lets this stand and writes it off as a bad program from a previous administration.”

Attorney Anthony Coppolino of the Department of Justice represented the government. He didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from the news agency last night.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “NSA Illegally Wiretapped 2 Lawyers for Islamic Charity, Judge Rules”

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