NYPD sergeant accused of computer-snooping

November 20, 2008 5:27:00 PM PST
A city police sergeant was arrested Thursday on charges of illegally accessing the FBI terrorist watch list to help a Canadian acquaintance win a child-custody dispute. Sgt. Haytham Khalil, 34, of Brooklyn was released on $20,000 bail after a brief appearance before a federal magistrate judge in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

His lawyer, Andrew Quinn, did not immediately return a telephone call.

Khalil was charged with accessing a computer without authorization in December 2007 to obtain information from the FBI's National Crime Information Center.

The charge stemmed from a probe that began in April, when a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer told the FBI legal attache in Ottawa that the Canadian force had discovered that a Canadian citizen had a document identifying an individual as being on a terrorist watch list.

The Canadian was identified in court papers only as "Individual 1."

Investigators traced the document to a computer search that Khalil had made while borrowing the sign-on identification of an officer who was authorized to use the computer database in which the watch list could be found, authorities said.

Last month, the acquaintance of Khalil who received the terrorist watch list document told the FBI that Khalil obtained the information after learning of the custody dispute, according to a court complaint filed by the FBI.

The acquaintance then gave it to a lawyer to be used in the custody proceeding, the complaint said.

The charge of accessing a computer without authorization carries a potential sentence of a year in prison.

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