NATO activists' lawyers blast anti-terror law
Attorneys for three men facing terror-related charges for allegedly plotting to attack President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters during the NATO summit last month blasted Illinois' anti-terrorism statute, saying it is too all-encompassing and ill-defined.
Defense attorneys spoke yesterday to reporters after a hearing in which prosecutors declined to show their counterparts an indictment handed down recently by a grand jury, a document that would likely reveal additional details about the case. Federal prosecutors handle the vast majority of terrorism cases in the US, distinguishing the case of the three activists.
They are also the first people to be charged under an Illinois law adopted after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Defense attorney Thomas Durkin, who has defended several terrorist suspects in federal court, says there's a reason the state law hasn't been used before. "It's a stupid statute," he said. "It is overblown and vague. ... You can be charged with terrorism by destroying a beehive."
Prosecutors told Judge Adam Bourgeois, Jr., earlier that they were not ready to show defense attorneys the formal indictment. Defense lawyers say they have seen almost none of the evidence against their clients, who were arrested days before the NATO summit started and are also accused of plotting attacks on police stations.
The judge did not order prosecutors to turn the indictment over to prosecutors, but they must do so when the three are arraigned on July 2. Brian Church, 20; Jared Chase, 24; and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24, are charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, material support for terrorism and possession of explosives. If convicted on all counts, they could each face a maximum 85-year prison term.