TRENTON - A federal judge on Friday denied a request from an unindicted accomplice in the George Washington Bridge lane-closure case to block prosecutors from disclosing the individual's identity to the news media.

U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton did, however, extend to Tuesday a deadline for prosecutors to make public a list of individuals they say joined the alleged criminal conspiracy but whom the government has not charged.

In the interim, the "unindicted coconspirator," identified in court papers as John Doe, appealed the judge's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia. A successful appeal could forestall disclosure of the list for months.

Wigenton ruled Tuesday in favor of a group of news organizations that sued the government to gain access to the list. She ordered prosecutors in the office of U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman to disclose the names by noon Friday, but Doe moved to intervene in the case late Thursday.

"This court does not take the identification of unindicted coconspirators lightly, recognizing the possible reputational consequences of such a revelation," Wigenton wrote in a five-page decision early Friday evening. "However, here, this court has given Doe notice and an opportunity to be heard, and has thoroughly considered his privacy interests in determining that the conspirator letter should be made public."

The emergence of a John Doe was the latest twist in a political and legal drama that attracted national attention in January 2014, dominated statehouse news for months, and set Gov. Christie, a Republican, off course in his pursuit of the White House.

The indictment, unsealed a year ago this month, alleges that three of Christie's former allies and others conspired in September 2013 to cause massive traffic jams near the bridge in Fort Lee, Bergen County, in an attempt to punish the town's Democratic mayor for not endorsing the governor's reelection that year.

The list of unindicted coconspirators is expected to name the others mentioned in the indictment.

Prosecutors charged Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff; Bill Baroni, a former top Christie appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; and former Port Authority official David Wildstein.

Wildstein pleaded guilty last year and is cooperating with the government. Kelly and Baroni pleaded not guilty and face trial in September.

The indictment alleges that from September to December 2013, Kelly, Baroni, Wildstein, and others conspired to misuse the agency's property to "facilitate and conceal the causing of traffic problems in Fort Lee as punishment" of Mayor Mark Sokolich; to commit wire fraud in perpetuation of the false representation that the lane reductions were part of a traffic study; and to "interfere with the localized travel rights of the residents of Fort Lee" in order to punish Sokolich.

Christie, who has not been accused of wrongdoing, told reporters this week it was "highly doubtful" his name would appear on the list.

To block the release of the list until his case has been fully litigated, Doe needed to show that publication of the names of unindicted coconspirators would cause him irreparable harm and that he was likely to succeed on the merits of the case, among other legal thresholds.

Wigenton agreed with the news organizations that Doe, in asserting due process rights, had ignored the legal analysis she conducted on the matter in her decision ruling in favor of the media against the government.

Doe's attorney, Jenny R. Kramer of the law firm Chadbourne & Parke L.L.P., wrote that the list branded her client "as a criminal without due process of law."

Kramer argued that Doe met the irreparable-harm standard because the stigma of being associated with the alleged crime "can never be removed." Kramer was an assistant U.S. attorney from 2005 to 2015, overlapping with Christie's tenure there as New Jersey's top federal law enforcement official from 2002 to 2008.

The media companies, including the publisher of the Inquirer, the Daily News, and Philly.com, responded that by definition, an unindicted coconspirator has not been charged with a crime. Such an individual can fight any "stigma" in public, they said.

The companies noted that they filed their motion to intervene in January. Doe needed to challenge their claims before the judge rendered her decision this week, the news organizations said.

"This court should sanction Doe for making this motion," Bruce Rosen, a lawyer for the news organizations, wrote in a court filing Friday.

Wigenton said she was puzzled by Doe's failure to intervene sooner, but nevertheless allowed him to do so "in an abundance of caution."

Fishman's office did not oppose Doe's motion.

Prosecutors in January provided the list of unindicted coconspirators to Kelly and Baroni.

In response to the news organizations' lawsuit, prosecutors had argued that publicly releasing the names of unindicted coconspirators would damage the privacy rights of individuals who would have "no opportunity to vindicate themselves at trial."

Wigenton noted that the media had covered the bridge case extensively and said that any individual on the list was likely to be an elected official or government employee.

Fishman's office did not appeal the ruling.

aseidman@phillynews.com 856-779-3846 @AndrewSeidman