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Ashcroft Is Criticized for Remarks About Witness in Terror-Cell Case

The judge at the trial of four men accused of being members of a terror cell criticized Attorney General John Ashcroft today for praising the government’s chief witness and implied that Mr. Ashcroft had violated his ban on public comments about the case. “I believe the attorney general is subject to the orders of this court,” said Judge Gerald E. Rosen of Federal District Court. At a news conference on Thursday in Washington, Mr. Ashcroft spoke about the Justice Department’s progress against terrorism. He cited a number of plea agreements with informers, including the government’s lead witness in the case here, Youssef Hmimssa. “Youssef Hmimssa pleaded guilty to multiple criminal charges, and is currently cooperating in the Detroit cell case,” Mr. Ashcroft said in prepared remarks. “Such cooperation is a critical tool for our war on terrorism.” After defense lawyers said today that they might move to have Mr. Ashcroft held in contempt, Judge Rosen criticized the attorney general. Full Story

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