Federal prosecutors and defense lawyers last week told the federal judge presiding over the case that they are ready for the trial of Harlem Suarez, accused of sympathies for the Islamic State while plotting to set off a backpack bomb on a Key West beach.
The only last-minute issue that arose at a hearing in Miami federal court was a question from U.S. District Judge José Martínez on why the prosecution had put under seal a filing in the case.
"I believe in public trials," Judge Martínez told the prosecutors at Wednesday’s hearing. "It doesn't make sense to me why we need to seal this."
Marc Stuart Anton, one of two prosecutors in the courtroom, told Martínez that the person in charge of national security issues had made the request. But the prosecutor did not have a detailed explanation and promised to file the explanation.
A prior filing, not under seal, had specified that classified information in some documents shared with defense lawyers would be put under seal.
Suarez, 24, did not appear before the court. But his lead lawyer, Richard Francis Della Fera, did. He told the judge he was ready for the trial scheduled to begin July 11 in federal court in Key West.
Suarez, whose family brought him from Cuba in 2004 when he was 12, pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned and demanded trial. His attorney has said he is an impressionable young man who was heavily influenced by television and internet news.