MIAMI, NOV. 8 -- Lawyers for deposed Panamanian leader Manuel Antonio Noriega said they plan to ask that charges against him be dropped after discovering today that the government apparently has been eavesdropping on telephone conversations between them and Noriega.

Cable News Network broadcast excerpts this morning of taped telephone calls that were made by Noriega from his jail cell here and included conversation between him and his lawyers, and with an unidentified man about rebuilding Noriega's power base in Panama.

But U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler, acting on a request by Frank Rubino, Noriega's primary lawyer, temporarily barred CNN from further airing of tapes of conversations between Noriega and his defense team.

Hoeveler extended his order until Friday afternoon, and a CNN spokesman said the network immediately asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to lift the order. CNN President Tom Johnson said in a statement that the restraining order was an "unconstitutional restraint on our continuing coverage of a very important news story."

Rubino told Hoeveler that Noriega has been stripped of the attorney-client privilege, which protects confidentiality of conversations between lawyers and clients.

"Can General Noriega receive a fair trial when every day we wake up to the threat of our case strategy being aired to 400 million listeners and the prosecution learning details of our defense?" Rubino asked.

Rubino said he learned of the tapes Wednesday night when CNN told him that it had obtained seven recordings made by the Justice Department at Metropolitan Correctional Center, where Noriega is being held awaiting trial on drug charges. Rubino said CNN played for him a tape of conversations between Noriega and three members of the defense team.

Granting the injunction, Hoeveler said, "It's becoming more and more difficult in this case to assure that both parties get a fair trial." He also ordered the FBI to determine the source of the tapes.

In Washington, Assistant Attorney General Robert S. Mueller said in a statement that reports the government "improperly taped telephone calls between Noriega and his counsel are false."

"Noriega was informed that he could properly make an unmonitored call to his counsel by notifying staff in advance of such a call and requesting it not be monitored," Mueller said. He added that the telephone used by Noriega bears a notice stating that calls are monitored, a routine prison policy.

Noriega is charged with taking $4.6 million in payoffs from Colombia's Medellin cartel to protect cocaine-smuggling operations through Panama. He surrendered to U.S. officials last January after the U.S. invasion of Panama and was flown to Miami.

{Reuters reported tonight that Vice President Ricardo Arias Calderon said Panama will request Noriega's extradition if he is not brought to trial in the United States. Arias said the government had not yet issued an extradition request, however, calling the issue of a possible mistrial "media speculation."}

Diane Cossin of the U.S. attorney's office here said prosecutors today gave Hoeveler a copy of a form signed by Noriega Jan. 29 in acknowledgement that the government would be monitoring his calls.

Bureau of Prison regulations require prison inmates to sign a consent form acknowledging that "an inmate's use of institutional telephones constitute consent to this monitoring." The form also advises prisoners that "a properly placed call to an attorney is not monitored." CNN said it had a tape "which appears to be excerpts of a conversation between Noriega and his defense team."

In the excerpt broadcast and translated from Spanish by CNN, Noriega began by saying to an unidentified friend: "Hi, Lucho."

"Hi, boss. How are you? I was worried because I didn't hear from you for so long."

"I thought you had already gone out of the country."

"No, your friends have me trapped here."

In another excerpt, Noriega appeared to be sending a message to the Cuban Embassy in Panama. The network reported:

"According to CNN's information, Noriega appears to be using a crude code to say, 'We are going to return the ball to the court of the CIA and {President} Bush in our legal strategy.' "

Staff writer Bill McAllister in Washington and special correspondent Jon Leinwand in Miami contributed to this report.