In an unusual step, Kontogiannis’ guilty plea was done in a secret,closed hearing. The plea agreement was unsealed earlier this month, andlast week Burns ordered that transcripts of four hearings related tothe plea also be made public.
Federal prosecutors objected in motions filed under seal lastweek. Yesterday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal ordered thedocuments to remain secret and scheduled a hearing for the week of Aug.6.
Now the government is making an argument that these transcripts include classified information–an argument they apparently haven’t made before.
At a hearing in federal court in San Diego yesterday, Burnssaid that the government invoked federal laws dealing with classifiedinformation in their papers filed last week.
He said that when the secret hearings took place four monthsago, prosecutors knew that the information would become openeventually, and did not object then.
The judge appeared irked that the government was now objecting to theinformation becoming public and was raising the issue of classifiedinformation â€œfor the first time ever.â€
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Forge said government lawyersdecided after the hearings that they wanted more information keptsecret than they first believed was necessary.
Without going into details, Forge told Burns â€œthe scope of theinformation the government viewed as non-disclosable turned out to bebroaderâ€ than they originally thought.
Meanwhile, John Michael’s lawyer suggests this is something more than an effort to keep classified information sealed.