updated 9/28/2006 7:13:14 PM ET 2006-09-28T23:13:14

The federal judge who struck down President Bush’s warrantless surveillance program turned aside a government request for an indefinite stay Thursday but said the government could have a week to appeal.

U.S. Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruled on Aug. 17 that the program, which targets communications between people in this country and people overseas when a link to terrorism is suspected, violates the rights to free speech and privacy, as well as the separation of powers in the Constitution. The White House says the surveillance is a key tool in the fight against terrorism that already has helped prevent attacks.

The Justice Department asked Taylor to allow the program to continue until the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issues a final ruling on the legal issues, which could take months.

Taylor denied that request, but gave the government a seven-day reprieve while it seeks a stay from the appeals court during the time the appeal is pending. Later Thursday, the government filed a motion for a stay with the appeals court in Cincinnati.

The American Civil Liberties Union brought the suit in Detroit on behalf of journalists, scholars and lawyers who say the program has made it difficult for them to do their jobs because they believe many of their overseas contacts are likely targets.

Many of them said they had been forced to take expensive and time-consuming overseas trips because their contacts were no longer willing to speak openly on the phone or because it would be unethical to ask them to do so when the confidentiality of those conversations could not be guaranteed.

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