Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Real IRA boss loses bid to view FBI files

Jailed Real IRA chief Michael McKevitt has lost an attempt in a US Federal Court to obtain FBI documents related to his criminal trial in the Republic, according to reports.

Mr McKevitt was accused of ordering the devastating 1998 Omagh bombing which killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, and injuring more than 300.

He was one of four people found liable for the bombing in June last year in a civil case. Nobody has been convicted in a criminal court for the murders.

He was jailed in August 2003 for 20 years by the Special Criminal Court in Dublin for organising terrorist activities for the Real IRA.

A key witness for the prosecution is David Rupert, who admitted that he was a paid operative of the FBI and MI5, the British intelligence agency, according to McKevitt. Rupert claimed to have infiltrated the Real IRA on behalf of those agencies.

According to news reports, McKevitt wanted to view documents that detailed Rupert's relationship with the FBI and MI5, such as how much money he was paid by the bureau, his criminal history and his tax affairs.

McKevitt argued that the information is “not only pertinent to the defence of his civil action, but is essential to his challenge of the witness's credibility.”

US District Judge John G Koeltl ruled that the government did not improperly withhold the information from McKevitt, because he never filed a Freedom of Information Act request.

“The plaintiff did not make a FOIA request, have it denied, and then appeal in the Department of Justice,” Mr Koektl said.

“Rather, he sought evidence under the Hague Evidence Convention.”

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