A civil rights attorney working on behalf of the Capital Region Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a formal request Tuesday for information relevant to the decision to close an arts and media center on code violations after a controversial art exhibit debuted last week.

Attorney Peter Henner, working on behalf of the NYCLU and Sanctuary for Independent Media, is investigating whether the Sanctuary’s building, located at 3361 6th Ave. in Troy, is being treated differently than other buildings in the city.

The building was ordered closed last Tuesday, a day after the opening of Iraqi-American artist Wafaa Bilal's video game and art installation, "Virtual Jihadi." The exhibit is intended to provoke thought about the roots of violence, but it angered some people who believe it is sympathetic to terrorism.

Among those upset by the artwork was Robert Mirch, public works commissioner and majority leader of the Rensselaer County Legislature.

Mirch, who oversees code enforcement, led a protest of the exhibit last Monday outside the Sanctuary’s building.

“The public deserves to know what motivated the sudden decision to close the Sanctuary,” said Melanie Trimble, director of the NYCLU’s Capital Region Chapter. “Public officials cannot selectively enforce building codes simply to shut down an art exhibit they find distasteful. Such behavior would be an abuse of power wholly inconsistent with the First Amendment right to free speech.”

Before the controversial exhibit opened, the city had given no indication that it objected to the Sanctuary’s schedule for rehabbing the 106-year-old building.

Henner, who is based in Clarksville, submitted his request under the Freedom of Information Law. He is seeking access to a wide range of public records, including any communications pertaining to the Monday protest, documents pertaining to any notice provided the sanctuary about code violations, and all records pertaining to complaints about activities or code violations at the sanctuary.

The city must respond to Henner’s request within five business days.