Sensitive government tapes of telephone conversations between deposed Gen. Manuel Noriega and his defense team were obtained by Cable News Network from the Panamaian government who got them from the State Department, Noriega's lawyers said Friday.
"Our government does a lot of things and doesn't get caught," lawyer Frank Rubino said. "Well, this time I think they got caught red handed."He said an investigation by his office determined the State Department acquired copies of all tapes of Noriega's phone conversations from the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he is being held pending trial on drug-related charges.
The State Department gave them to the Guillermo Endara government in Panama, who in turn made them available to a CNN reporter, said Rubino, who has claimed that the tapes violate the general's constitutional rights to client-attorney confidentiality and a fair trial.
The State Department would not comment on Rubino's allegations.
CNN has obtained at least seven of the tapes, and the airing of an excerpt from one of them Thursday morning prompted Rubino to seek a permanent injunction against against airing the material.
U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler issued a temporary injunction pending his full ruling, and on Friday he extended the temporary injunction for 10 days.