NATO activists' lawyers haven't seen indictment

Terror conspiracy suspects left to right: Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly
June 12, 2012 3:38:43 PM PDT
Attorneys for three NATO protesters facing terror charges say they are not being allowed to see the indictment against their clients.

The three men remain behind bars, accused of plotting to firebomb several targets around the city during last month's NATO summit.

Prosecutors say the men tried to make Molotov cocktails to throw at targets, including President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters.

Defense attorneys say the indictment should be made public. Even though the judge thought it was odd for prosecutors to withhold copies of the indictment, the state's attorney's office says the only point of Tuesday's hearing was to tell the judge there is an indictment.

In the meantime, defense attorneys and supporters of the NATO protesters are blasting the charges, calling them false.

From protesting NATO to protesting criminal charges, supporters of the so-called "NATO 5" took their fight to the Cook County Criminal Courts building where three of the five -- Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly -- were due in court. The three men are accused of plotting to attack President Obama's campaign headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home and police stations.

"They found kids from out of town that didn't know too many people here that were just staying at a friend's house and fabricated some felony charges," said Micah Philbrook.

Shackled at the ankles, with chains around their waists, the three men appeared before a judge briefly while prosecutors announced an indictment. But the state refused to release the indictment when asked by defense attorneys, a move the judge thought was a "little strange."

"Why can't we have formal charges? These guys have been in jail for almost 30 days now and there's been no specific charge leveled against them," said defense attorney Michael Deutsch.

Prosecutors say it is not unusual to wait until the arraignment to release copies of a indictment, but what is unusual are state terrorism charges rather than federal. The three men are the first in Illinois to be charged under a state anti-terrorism law adopted after 9/11.

"It's ridiculous, it's overblown, it is overbroad, it is vague," said Jared Chase's attorney Thomas Durkin. "You can be a terrorist if you destroy beehives."

Durkin believes the charges against his client and the other men are a way for the city to justify the amount of money spent on securing the NATO summit.

"This case stinks," Durkin said. "This is an informant-created case from everything we've able to investigate so far, and we suspect that the informants are police officers."

But others in the legal community doubt prosecutors would bring false charges.

"In my experience, (neither) federal (nor) state authorities bring charges just in order to scare people or to in some way take away their 1st Amendment rights to free speech," said attorney Thomas Glasgow.

All three suspects have remained in the Cook County Jail since they were arrested a few days before the NATO summit. They are being held on a $1.5 million bond. Defense attorneys say they will try to get the amount reduced once they see the evidence in the indictment.

The indictment expected to be released at the arraignment, which is scheduled for July 2.


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