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Court Orders Fire Department To Release 9/11 Tapes

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Court Orders Fire Department To Release 9/11 Tapes

MARCH 24TH, 2005

The state's highest court has ordered the Fire Department to release tapes of 911 dispatches and emergency radio transmissions made from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

In Albany on Wednesday, the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of granting a Freedom of Information request from the New York Times and victims' families to make the tapes and transcripts public, as well as internal interviews with firefighters about the rescue effort.

The court ordered the FDNY to give full access to the material, except portions that could cause pain or embarrassment to the people interviewed. But to be granted such an exception, the Fire Department must return to state Supreme Court and convince a judge on a case-by-case basis.

The high court also ruled that only 911 dispatches from the department, and not recordings of callers, could be released, unless the caller – or his or her family in the case of the deceased – consents.

In addition, the court said the Justice Department should be allowed to ask the State Supreme Court to seal some information the city gave the federal government for the prosecution of terror suspect Zacarias Moussaoui. The Court of Appeals said publicizing certain material could jeopardize Moussaoui’s right to a fair trial.

Moussaoui is the only person charged in the United States in connection with the September 11, 2001, attacks.
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