Justice Department considering releasing name in Saudi Arabia 9/11 lawsuit

Justice Department considering releasing name in Saudi Arabia 9/11 lawsuit
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The U.S. Justice Department is considering whether to disclose the redacted name of a person in a long-standing lawsuit seeking to link the Saudi Arabian government with the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrGOP rep predicts watchdog report on alleged FISA abuses will find 'problems' Barr defends Trump's use of executive authority, slams impeachment hearings GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse MORE faced a Friday deadline to decide whether the Justice Department would release the name, which was redacted from a 2012 FBI document that described how men in Southern California assisted two terrorist hijackers ahead of the attack, the Associated Press reported.

However, Justice Department officials submitted a request to a federal judge in New York for an extension on deciding whether to release the name until Sept. 12, which was approved.  

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"We make this request because the FBI's response to the motion is being coordinated at the highest levels of the Department of Justice, and additional time is needed to finalize the FBI's submission and the scope of the privilege assertions," U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, said in a letter, according to the AP.

Barr could use a state secrets privilege and refuse to release the name.

The lawsuit was filed in 2003 by victims, families of victims and others alleging that Saudi government employees assisted in the terrorist plot on 9/11. Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case believe that the person may be a Saudi official who allegedly directed the California men to assist the hijackers, according to the AP.  

National Chair of the 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism Terry Strada commended the decision.

"We're glad the Attorney General requested more time to look at this issue so that he can get this right," Strada said, the AP reported. "This is not a state secret, plain and simple, and we're counting on DOJ to apply the law faithfully and release the name to us."

The U.S. has invested some Saudi diplomats and others connected to the Saudi government after the attacks, according to declassified documents.

The 9/11 Commission report found "no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded" the attacks, but it also stated "the likelihood" that Saudi government-sponsored charities may have been involved, according to the AP. 

The Saudi government has denied any involvement with the attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.