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Motion paves way for NSA challenge

WASHINGTON — An Oregon man convicted last year of attempted terrorism filed a motion Monday that paves the way for the first constitutional challenge by a criminal defendant to a warrantless surveillance program operated by the National Security Agency.

Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 22, was found guilty of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction after he was caught in an FBI sting operation trying to detonate what turned out to be a fake bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in 2010.

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His lawyers have argued that he was entrapped — a bluster-filled college student who was conned — while the government has said he was a genuine jihadist who could have made contact with real terrorists.

Late Monday, Mohamud’s lawyers filed a motion in US District Court in Portland seeking discovery of information that they believe will aid in an eventual challenge to the constitutionality of the law that authorized the surveillance used in his case.

At the very least, they say, Mohamud deserves a new trial because he was not informed that the government used the warrantless program in the first case.

That ‘‘raises a wide range of serious issues regarding suppression of unlawfully or unconstitutionally obtained evidence, dismissal or other sanctions based on the government’s intentional violation of governing rules,’’ said Stephen Sady, one of the three lawyers who filed the motion.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on Monday.

Mohamud was informed last year that the FBI used evidence obtained through the NSA’s use of intercepts under a provision of a 2008 law that permits eavesdropping without warrants on Americans’ international phone calls and e-mails as long as the surveillance is targeted at foreigners overseas.

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