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Request for release of info in ’96 TWA crash denied

TWA Flight 800 crashed off of Long Island, N.Y., in 1996.
TWA Flight 800 crashed off of Long Island, N.Y., in 1996.AP/File

A federal appeals court has denied a researcher’s bid for release of information from the investigation into the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 off of Long Island, N.Y.

The New York-to-Paris flight crashed July 17, 1996, just minutes after the jetliner took off from John F. Kennedy Airport, killing all 230 people aboard.

Thomas Stalcup, in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency filed in US District Court in Boston, sought documents and the names of eyewitnesses to the crash. Stalcup has raised questions about the official finding that the plane was brought down by an accidental fuel tank explosion.

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The First US Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a District Court finding that the CIA was permitted to keep the material secret, under exemptions in the FOIA law.

After considering a 2009 decision by the Ninth Circuit on a “nearly identical challenge to the exact materials at issue here,” along with the CIA’s “extensive declaration in this case, and the absence of any viable argument to the contrary, we are left satisfied that the CIA’s response to the FOIA request accorded with the law,” a three-judge panel of the court ruled in an opinion written by Judge Jeffrey R. Howard.

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Group seeks to reopen inquiry into ’96 TWA crash