Terror case may be long coming to trial

The pile of evidence the U.S. government says it needs to prove that seven local men plotted suicide missions abroad is so sensitive and complex that none of the defendants will likely come to trial before next fall.

A hearing Thursday at the federal courthouse in Raleigh offered a window into the intricacy of the prosecution of the accused terrorists. Reams of evidence will be reviewed by federal authorities to determine whether it may be declassified. They say they will ask a judge to review some of the information in secret to determine how to protect national security by limiting how defense attorneys review and discuss it.

On Thursday, prosecutors for the U.S. government asked defense attorneys to sign an agreement about how to guard the sensitive evidence they receive.

Daniel Boyd, sons Dylan and Zakariya, Anes Subasic, Hysen Sherifi, Omar Hassan and Ziyad Yaghi face charges of conspiring to maim and murder abroad in the name of Islam. All lived in the Triangle. They are being held at a jail in Virginia and didn't come to Raleigh on Thursday.

Four defense attorneys said they expect to make another request that their clients be released on bail before trial.

Some evidence will draw from intelligence collected for national security. U.S. prosecutors could ask the judge to keep it confidential, arguing that its release would threaten national security. Already, attorneys for each of the defendants have had to obtain security clearances.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Louise Flanagan said it would be nearly impossible to rush the case through court. All but one of the defense attorneys waived a requirement that the federal courts provide a speedy trial.

Already, federal prosecutors have provided the defense attorneys with more than 2,400 pages and more than 60 recordings that could be used as evidence in the case. Much more is expected to come.

All of the defense attorneys were appointed after the clients said they were too poor to afford attorneys. Flanagan said she would waive the reimbursement cap of $8,600 per attorney because she expected each to work many more hours than typical in a federal case.

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