IN STATE HOUSE ATTACK CASE: US Prosecutors Move to Restrict Access to Sensitive Information

Modou Nyang

U.S. Federal Prosecutors in the criminal case against Cherno Njie, Alagie Barrow and Banka Manneh, Thursday, 26 March, sought and gained a court Banka MannehAlagie Barroworder to restrict public access to “sensitive” information about the accused and other third parties found duCherno M. Njiering investigations, court documents indicate.

The move will effectively conceal information about other people who may have been involved in the conspiracy but are yet to be charged. It also seeks to protect the privacy, financial information and business interests of the accused.

“This Order would relate to discovery [evidence] that may be produced by the government to the defense,” the motion filed by the prosecution led by U.S. District Attorney Andrew M. Luger, noted. “[It] includes the following sensitive materials … [about] other members of the conspiracy, contents of email accounts used by members of the conspiracy; [and] …personal identifying information (“PII”) about others.”

The court’s granting of the protective order means that “discovery” evidence found during investigations will now be served informally and not electronically through the public filing system. Ben Petok, Director of Communications at the U.S. attorney’s office in St. Paul, Minnesota, would not comment on the details why the prosecution moved to seek a protective order.

“It is obvious, to protect information, I don’t have a specific reason,” Petok said in a telephone interview. “I can’t comment on that because of the nature of the protective order,” he responded as to whether others involved in the conspiracy are being investigated for further charges or would be used as witnesses.

Earlier in a similar move, papers relating to the complaint, affidavit, petition, and arrest warrant of Alagie Barrow were also sealed under court order. The prosecution argued that filing the papers through the public system would have jeopardized Barrow’s arrest and continued investigation into the case. A motion to unseal the documents was later sought and granted following Barrow’s arrest. The complaint and affidavit by FBI special agent Nicholas Marshall was the major source of information regarding the planning and execution of the attack on the State House on Dec. 30, 2014.

Banka Manneh, the 3rd accused who was the last to be indicted among the accused was due in court last Thursday, but a new calendar detailing the outline of the case now sets his appearance date to May 27. He will be appearing in court alongside Alagie Barrow, the second accused. Cherno Njie, the first accused, will appear for jury trial on April 20.

All three accused persons are currently on bail with restrictive conditions regarding the use of the internet and travelling outside their designated locality. They also had to post bail bonds in the amounts of $1,000,000, $26,000 and $25,000 for Njie, Manneh and Barrow respectively.