Copyright 1996 The Denver Post Corporation
The Denver Post
April 11, 1996 Thursday 2D EDITION
SECTION: A SECTION; Pg. A-14
LENGTH: 614 words
HEADLINE: Judge rebuffs request to open documents in case
BYLINE: Howard Pankratz, Denver Post Legal Affairs Writer
HELENA, Mont. - Bowing to pleas by the federal government, a federal judge yesterday refused to unseal documents outlining the FBI's case against Unabomber suspect Theodore Kaczynski.
U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell cited the need to protect "the integrity of the investigation and the privacy interests" of potential witnesses, particularly the Kaczynski family, which alerted the FBI that Kaczynski was probably the Unabomber.
Release of the documents had been sought by The Denver Post, The New York Times and NBC.
Terry Turchie, the FBI agent supervising the Unabom Squad, said disclosure of the search-warrant affidavit, and Kaczynski's letters to his family, "could disrupt the FBI's relationship with members of Mr. Kaczynski's family."
"In order to elicit the full cooperation of the family, the FBI agreed at the family's request to protect the contents of Mr. Kaczynski's letters from the public to the extent possible," Turchie said in an affidavit filed yesterday.
The Denver Post believes the documents are public and should be released.
Helena lawyer John Morrison, who represented The Post, told the judge that there was little chance that making the documents public would hinder an investigation. The only suspect, he said, was Kaczynski and his cabin had been secured and thoroughly searched by federal agents. Kaczynski can't flee, destroy evidence or intimidate witnesses, said Morrison.
Morrison added that release of the documents will reduce speculation, end inaccuracies and half-truths and make public discussion of the case more informed. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bernie Hubley said the affidavit recounts events that led investigators to search Kaczynski's residence, "including a substantial amount of information received from members of Kaczynski's family."
Hubley disputed assertions by the media that the investigation is "essentially complete."
Kaczynski has been charged with keeping bomb components in his Lincoln, Mont., cabin, but more charges may be brought against him, said Hubley.
"The search-warrant affidavit describes a series of crimes occurring over an 18-year period, including 16 bombings and three murders," he said. "No one has been charged with any of these offenses, and they remain the subject of a pending grand jury investigation."
The grand jury is to convene in Great Falls on Wednesday.
Hubley said the FBI's "overt" investigation is only a few weeks old, and an "extraordinary amount of work remains to be done."
"The FBI was unable to pursue many leads until Kaczynski was in custody for fear that he would learn of the investigation; now that he is in custody, investigators must follow up on those leads," he said.
The government charged that unsealing the affidavit would significantly damage the investigation, because it names potential witnesses to bombings.
It also outlines many facts known by the FBI about the bombings, about Kaczynski's whereabouts during them and about his use of "commercial establishments," said Hubley.
FBI agent Turchie claimed the media already has caused problems for the FBI.
"Within the past few days, the media interviewed the manager of a Sacramento hotel who 'identified' Mr. Kaczynski as having stayed there on several occasions in years past," said Turchie. "That same individual was interviewed by FBI agents within the past few weeks and was unable to identify a photograph of Mr. Kaczynski.
"The FBI has again interviewed this individual, who has advised that the media had misquoted him and that he thought Mr. Kaczynski had been seen in the area of the hotel. He has no records to support this, and told the FBI he had no records of hotel stays."