Washington: The case of Kashmiri separatist Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, who has been charged by the FBI of being an undeclared agent of Pakistani spy agency ISI in the US, has been referred to a grand jury which will determine if there is enough evidence for a trial.
"The matter has been referred to the grand jury, so no further hearings are scheduled pending action by the grand jury," an official of the US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, said.
A grand jury is traditionally larger than and distinguishable from a 'petit' jury or the trial jury, which is used during a trial.
Grand juries carry out their job by examining evidence and issuing indictments, or by investigating alleged crimes and issuing presentments.
The court official said it is the grand jury which will determine if there is enough evidence for trial against Fai, who is currently under house arrest with electronic surveillance at his residence in Fairfax, an effluent suburb of Washington.
Fai heads the Washington-based Kashmiri American Council (KAC).
Meanwhile, following an appeal by the prosecution, the Alexandria court hearing the case ordered that the defence would not make any of the classified information public without the consent of the court.
Assistant United States Attorney, Gordon D Kromberg, had moved a motion for protective order, seeking an order by the court to ensure that secret evidence and information in the case are not disclosed by Fai's attorneys.
Kromberg said Fai has been charged by criminal complaint with conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign principal without registering with the Attorney General, and to falsify, conceal, and cover up material by tricks, schemes, and devices, in this matter. By foreign principal, Kromberg meant the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan.
"In essence, the charge alleges that the defendant acted as an unregistered agent of the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency of the Government of Pakistan and made false and misleading statements to government agents to conceal that fact," the motion alleged.
Kromberg requested the court to ensure that the evidence against Fai, which the federal prosecutors would share with the defence attorney, are highly sensitive and secret, are not disclosed by Fai's attorneys.
"This court must establish procedures to ensure that there is no disclosure or dissemination of the classified documents or information in this case, except as provided by order of this court," Kromberg said in his motion which was moved before the court on August 03.
Two days later, the court ordered that the defence would not make any of the classified information public without the consent of the court.
"The defence will store the declassified information in a secure place and will use reasonable care to ensure that the declassified information is not disclosed to third persons, including the media, in violation of this agreement," the court said in its order dated August 05.
"The defence shall not disclose any declassified information to any person other than the defendant, witnesses which they may be interviewing or preparing for trial, and attorneys, law clerks, secretaries, translators, technical and other experts, and investigators, involved in representation of the defendant in this case," the court said.
First Published: Saturday, August 13, 2011, 14:32