A federal appeals court on Monday upheld the conviction of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person to stand trial in a US court in the September 11 attacks, rejecting arguments that he was denied access to evidence and the right to choose his own attorney.
Moussaoui, 41, is serving life in a federal prison in Colorado, after pleading guilty to helping plan the attacks. Since his sentencing, he has said he lied when testifying that he plotted to hijack a fifth jetliner on September 11, 2001.
A three-judge panel of the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected Moussaoui's claim that his right to choose his counsel was violated because the trial judge required that any attorney involved in his defense undergo a national security background check.
The appeal contended that it is unconstitutional to require government approval of a defendant's hired or pro bono counsel. It also argued that Moussaoui's rights were violated because his attorneys could not talk to him about potentially helpful evidence gleaned from classified material.