Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, researchers who interviewed for IRA members for a Boston College oral history project, have announced their intention to ask the United States Supreme Court to rule that the tapes should not be handed over to the British authorities.
On Friday, the First US Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston made the decision not to rehear their case. The three-judge panel of the appeals court had previously rejected their case in July 2012.
In a joint statement, the men said their lawyers would argue that "the MLAT [Mutual legal assistance treaty] bestows upon the PSNI [Police Service of Northern Ireland ] greater powers in relation to the serving of subpoenas in the US than could be exercised by, for instance, the FBI.
"US citizens could challenge a subpoena served by the FBI on First and Fifth Amendment grounds but are precluded from doing so in the case of subpoenas served by foreign powers under an MLAT,” the BBC reports.
Prosecutors, acting on behalf of the British authorities in the UK, have issued subpoenas seeking information on the murder of Jean McConville in 1972, at the hand of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). They have admitted involvement.
The Belfast Project tapes include interviews with convicted bomber Delores Price. In a separate interview with a newspaper Price claimed that she drove McConville, a mother of ten, to her death.
These subpoenas were issued under a Mutual Legal Assistance treaty between the United States and Britain.
The Belfast Project’s aim was to document “The Troubles”. The researchers had promised their sources that the information would not be released until their death. The interviews were recorded between 2001 and 2006.
Moloney, the director of the project, and McIntyre, a former IRA member, believe they could be in danger if the interviews are released. They also say that the release of these interviews would have a chilling effect on the future of academic research.
A spokesperson for Boston College, Jack Dunn, had no comment when approached by Boston.com.
Separately the Boston College is the midst of a legal battle of separate over a second subpoena. They will argue their appeal in court next Friday.