November 17, 1998

Jewish Group Told To Open Files

     SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A state appeals court ruled
that a Jewish civil rights organization that was
monitoring pro-Palestinian and anti-apartheid activists
must give them information about any illegal disclosures
of their confidential files.

     The 1st District Court of Appeal decided Monday that
the Anti-Defamation League of B'Nai Brith is entitled to
the same protections extended to journalists, meaning it
can keep its files and sources confidential but must hand
over any materials it illegally obtained and distributed.

     The ADL was appealing a judge's order to produce
internal documents concerning 17 activists who have sued
the ADL for invasion of privacy.

     The activists contend the ADL illegally obtained
confidential records, such as driver's licenses and
Social Security numbers, from the state and used them to
get people blacklisted among the organization's

     The ADL, which publishes newsletters and reports on
hate groups, denies having a blacklist and says it was
merely keeping tabs on terrorists and groups opposed to
civil rights.

     Some of the information the activists sought is part
of 17,000 ADL files seized by police in 1992. The ADL
later settled a civil suit filed by the city accusing it
of illegally obtaining the sensitive documents.

     The appeals court said Monday that the ADL isn't
entitled to keep its files secret if it used the material
for nonjournalistic purposes, such as disclosing the
information to foreign governments or to its private
network of supporters.

     Both the ADL and a lawyer representing the activists
declared victory.

     The ADL's regional director, Barbara Bergen, said
the ruling ``reaffirms our status as a journalistic
organization, with the right to protect our files.''

     Bergen said the terms of the court's order does not
entitle the activists to any new information because
there have been no illegal disclosures.

     Attorney Pete McCloskey, a former congressman whose
wife, Helen, is one of the plaintiffs, said the
information should enable him to take their long-stalled
case to trial.

     ``It breaks through this almost incredible claim by
these guys that they were immune for any violation of
law,'' he said.

Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company