A District Court hearing this morning in Boston on NBC News’ bid to gain access to subpoenaed interviews from Boston College’s Belfast Project failed when the presiding judge, William G Young ruled that material relevant to the PSNI investigation cannot be handed over.
Judge Young said his ruling will last for three months after which the US Department of Justice can again object to the unsealing of material and also appeal to the First Circuit if Judge Young rules against it. Presumably this will happen if, as seems likely, the PSNI investigation is still ongoing then.
The Department of Justice argued that the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) controls and the obligation of the US to cooperate with its partners under MLAT meant that the documents should not be made public while the investigation is ongoing.
The judge also confirmed that there were no interviews from Boston College in the court’s possession as all copies have been returned and disposed of by the college or its attorneys. There are summaries or characterizations of some of the materials made by the government and these will remain sealed for 32 months.
Aside from various other sealed documents it is hard to say what material of substantial value the judge can ever hand over since the court no longer has any interviews in its possession. The question will then become, can the court oblige Boston College to supply more copies of the interviews?