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U.S. attorneys will file an emergency appeal to stay an injunction issued in a closely watched case testing the government's restrictions on encryption.

U.S. attorneys intend to file an emergency appeal to stay an injunction issued in a closely watched case testing the government's restrictions on encryption, an attorney involved in the case said today.

The injunction, issued yesterday by U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, forbids the government from prosecuting plaintiff Daniel Bernstein for posting his encryption software on the Internet. (See related story) Current laws prohibit the export of strong encryption without a license.

Cindy Cohn, the lead attorney for Bernstein, said the government intended to file a request with Patel to make an emergency appeal of the injunction today or tomorrow. Anthony Coppolino, the Justice Department attorney handling the government's case, declined to comment.

Although attorneys had expected the government to appeal the case, news of the emergency appeal took some by surprise because Patel's injunction is so narrowly worded.

"I don't know why they would feel they have to [file an emergency appeal] rather than just letting the matter take its normal course through the appellate courts," said Edward Radlo, an attorney in Palo Alto, California, who specializes in cryptography law. "I guess they want to fight it any way they can."

Generally, appellate courts rule on emergency motions quickly, Radlo added, usually in under a week's time.