$500,000 For a FOIA Request a Bit Steep

(CN) – A law firm seeking money from a Libyan group says the U.S. Treasury and Justice Departments demanded $500,000 to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request. The Wood Law Firm says Uncle Sam has stiff-armed it for 4 years.




     In its complaint in Springfield, Mo., Federal Court, Wood Law says it is a judgment creditor to the “People’s Committee for Students of Libyan Arab Jamahariya” (PCLS), whose assets were blocked by government sanctions from January 1986 until September 2004.
     Wood says it is currently involved in a Greene County lawsuit with PCLS and Wachovia Bank; Wachovia merged with a bank “that had on deposit millions of dollars belonging to the PCLS.”
     Since 2006, the firm says, it has repeatedly asked the U.S. Department of Treasury, and later the Department of Justice, for PCLS bank statements, ledgers, information on blocked accounts and related documents.
     The government responded that it “cannot meet normal time limits,” but that the requests would be answered as soon as possible. The normal time limit to respond to a FOIA request is 20 days. Woods says the FBI told it repeatedly throughout 2008 that its requests were “being reviewed by an analyst.”
     Wood says that the Treasury Department eventually asked it to narrow the requests and demanded $500,000 for the information. Wood says that ridiculous sum is equal to the amount the defendants collected “for all FOIA requests during the entire fiscal year of 2008.”
     Wood Law says that it has not received any of the records it requested.
     It says that has a pending motion for summary judgment in state court and it needs the records for a response due on Dec. 7.
     It wants to see the records.
     Wood Law Firm is represented by its own counsel, Noah Wood.

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