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Stevens' lawyers accuse prosecution of delays in sharing of evidence

An attorney defending U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens against federal charges argued Tuesday that the government's failure to provide an advance look at evidence risks jeopardizing the fast-approaching trial.

In a motion to compel the government to turn over the material, Robert Cary accused prosecutors of "dilatory tactics" that could jeopardize Stevens' right to a fair trial.

But the government, which is prosecuting Stevens in Washington, D.C., on seven counts of filing false annual financial disclosures, dismissed the defense claims as being "without merit."

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan has scheduled a hearing today on at least a half-dozen significant issues that have arisen over the last month, including the motion filed Tuesday. Stevens' trial is set to start with jury selection on Sept. 22 and is expected to last about a month.

Under that schedule, the trial would end just a week or so before election day, Nov. 4, when Stevens, the Senate's longest serving Republican, is standing for his seventh full term against Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, a Democrat.

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