PORTLAND (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that information seized from a college student’s laptop and cellphone during a rape investigation may be used at the man’s trial on terrorism charges, but prosecutors say they don’t plan to do so.
The defense for Mohamed Mohamud, accused of trying to detonate a bomb at Portland’s Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in 2010, argued that the FBI used a 2009 Oregon State Police rape investigation and a voluntary interview when Mohamud was turned away from a flight at Portland International Airport as a front for their own surveillance and an excuse to look through Mohamud’s electronic records, which they would otherwise have difficulty accessing.
In an order filed Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Garr King didn’t address the question of constitutional violation because evidence from the federal probe has another source..
Prosecutors said they would not use any of the information from the rape investigation at trial.
The government has accused Mohamud of attempting to detonate a weapon of mass destruction at a Portland Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in 2010.
His defense team has filed motions consistent with preparation for a defense of entrapment. They haven’t challenged the government’s charge that Mohamud pressed a cellphone button during the FBI sting, believing it would set off explosives in a van. His defense lawyers have said the government used tactics to box him in and make him vulnerable to persuasion by undercover agents.
The FBI started tracking Mohamud in August 2009, when his distressed father called them and said he was worried that his son was the subject of an intense recruitment effort by jihadists in Yemen, among other places.
In early November 2009, Oregon State Police investigators were following up on a rape accusation made by a woman at Oregon State University after a Halloween party. State police investigators came across Mohamud’s name during a routine check of the National Crime Information Center, their first hint that the FBI was checking into him.
The rape claim was dropped, but the FBI copied Mohamud’s hard drive and the numbers in his cellphone. Mohamud’s attorneys say obtaining that evidence violated Mohamud’s rights. Prosecutors say they were already tracking Mohamud’s activity and learned nothing from the hard drive, cellphone or state police interview.