Mickey McKevitt, former leader of the IRA dissident group the Real IRA, has lost his bid to get his FBI files on the role of an American-based informer David Rupert in his conviction on directing terrorism charges. Rupert is currently in the witness protection program.
McKevitt was chief suspect in masterminding the Omagh bombing that killed 29 people on August 15th, 1998 in one of the worst atrocities of The Troubles, but he was never convicted. He was named with four others in a civil case brought by family members of the victims
McKevitt was also found guilty in Ireland's non-jury Special Criminal Court of two offenses: of belonging to an illegal organization and directing terrorism and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
David Rupert, a Chicago-based Irish American who won McKevitt's confidence while posing as a sympathizer, admitted in court he was a paid informer for the FBI and MI5. McKevitt sought to see documents that revealed Rupert’s relationship with the FBI and M15, and how much money he was paid by the bureau, his criminal history and his tax affairs. Rupert was allegedly bankrupt and had been arrested on other offenses.
McKevitt stated that the information he sought was "not only pertinent to the defense of his civil action, but is essential to his challenge of the witness's credibility because his conviction was "based largely on the testimonial evidence" of Rupert.
FBI Director Robert Mueller III was among the defendants named in the action. However, U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl ruled that the government did not improperly withhold the information from McKevitt, because he never filed a Freedom of Information Act request.
"The plaintiff did not make a FOIA request, have it denied, and then appeal in the Department of Justice," Koeltl wrote.
"Rather, he sought evidence under the Hague Evidence Convention. The government declined to produce documents under the rationale of FOIA exemptions, but the government's response was not a response to a FOIA request because no such FOIA request was ever made."