A Florida man accused of a series of bank robberies is counting on recently revealed NSA surveillance programs to prove his innocence.
The Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale reports that Terrance Brown, 40, believes that phone records collected by the National Security Agency could prove his innocence in series of robberies that concluded in a 2010 Fort Lauderdale bank robbery. In the course of the October 2010 robbery, armored car driver Alejandro Nodarse Arencibia was shot and killed.
Co-conspirator Nathaniel Moss, 34, is serving life in federal prison after he admitted to Arencibia’s murder. Brown and three others are on trial for a series of bank robberies that were allegedly orchestrated by the five-man group. Federal prosecutors as well as the FBI have relied on the men’s phone records to prove that they were all in the same place at the same time as the crimes.
Prosecutors have been unable to obtain Brown’s phone records from before 2010 after his carrier, MetroPCS, deleted the records. Now, after NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA has collected the phone records of millions of Americans, Brown’s defense attorneys hope to prove his innocence by collecting his old phone records to show that he was not near Moss at the time of the robbery and murder.
Brown’s attorney Marshall Dore Louis says the NSA almost certainly has Brown’s phone records on file. He believes that if the NSA does in fact have Brown’s phone records, they are required to turn them over.
"The government must be ordered to turn over the records for the two telephones that it attributes to Mr. Brown for the dates which are relevant to this case," Louis said in the motion, according to the Associated Press.
U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenbaum has given the Justice Department to the end of next week to respond to the request. The Justice Department must state whether the data exists and if releasing it will harm national security.
Brown’s request comes one week after Snowden revealed two large-scale, top-secret surveillance programs. First, Snowden leaked news to the Guardian and the Washington Post that the NSA is collecting the phone records of millions of Americans who are customers of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ). Then, Snowden leaked news of PRISM, a top-secret surveillance program with direct access to the servers of tech giants such as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB), Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) and the Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT). Snowden remained anonymous until June 9, when the Guardian and the Washington Post publicly revealed his name and background with his consent.