The confidential informant, who helps the FBI in terrorism investigations and has family in an undisclosed location in the Middle East, also must wear loose-fitting clothing or a body suit and lifts in his shoes to alter the appearance of his weight and height, U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen wrote in his order Monday in Missoula.
Federal prosecutors had asked that the courtroom be sealed to the public for the witness’ testimony in the upcoming trial of Fabjan Alameti for the safety of the informant and his family.
But Christensen ruled that a disguise is a reasonable way to protect the witness’ identity while preserving Alameti’s right to a public trial. Open trials allow U.S. citizens to exercise their First Amendment right to discuss governmental affairs in an informed manner, he wrote.
The judge cited a 2013 case in which an informant against Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel wore a wig and mustache to hide his identity while testifying.
Despite the disguise, the jury could hear the witness’ voice, see his eyes and facial reactions and observe his body language, which the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled preserved the defendant’s