BOSTON (AP) — Boston College must give police recorded interviews its researchers conducted with a convicted Irish Republican Army car bomber after an appeals court on Friday rejected an effort to stop their release.
The ruling by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal backed U.S. District Court Judge William Young's decision last year in the case of bomber Dolours Price, who spoke to Boston College researchers as part of an oral history project. The material will now be handed over to police by next month.
Price was one of several former IRA members who gave interviews as part of The Belfast Project between 2001 and 2006. Participants said the interviews were supposed to be secret until their deaths. But Northern Ireland police probing the IRA's 1972 killing of a Belfast woman want the recordings.
Young ordered Boston College to turn over interviews with Price and seven other former IRA members. Boston College didn't appeal Young's ruling on Price, but it's fighting his order on the seven other interviewees in an appeal separate from the one ruled on Friday.
Friday's decision came after a lawsuit by project director Ed Moloney and ex-IRA gunman Anthony McIntyre, who conducted the interviews, that challenged the decision by U.S. authorities to subpoena the records.
Their attorney argued that McIntyre and others who were part of The Belfast Project would be branded informants and faced "the real risk of physical harm" if the interviews were turned over. He also said it could have a chilling effect on other academic research projects.
The court on Friday ruled that the men had no right to interfere with the police request, under terms of a treaty between the United States and United Kingdom that requires the two aid each other's criminal investigations. And it said criminal investigations take precedence over academic study.
"The choice to investigate criminal activity belongs to the government and is not subject to veto by academic researchers," the court wrote.
The attorney for Moloney and McIntyre couldn't be immediately reached for comment on Friday, and it was unclear if they would pursue an appeal of Friday's decision.
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