An appellate court ruled Thursday that the New York Police Department was justified in using a Cold War-era federal legal doctrine to neither confirm nor deny the existence of records related to investigators’ surveillance of two Muslim men that were requested under state open records law.
An attorney for the men, a Rutgers University student and a Harlem imam, had argued that when the police department invoked the Glomar doctrine in responding to the Freedom of Information Law, it had extensively claimed an expansive privilege under a blanket exemption that should not apply to the state open records law.
But in a decision handed down Thursday, a panel of judges presiding over the state Supreme Court Appellate Division in Manhattan said the Glomar responses were appropriate because of “heightened law enforcement and public safety concerns.”
Two lower court judges had issued conflicting rulings in lawsuits brought by Samir Hashmi and Talib Abdur-Rashid.
The NYPD’s intelligence chief, Thomas Galati, wrote in affidavits that requiring the police department to reveal who was under surveillance could harm ongoing investigations and allow would-be extremists to gain sensitive information.