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‘NATO 3′ Plead Not Guilty To Firebombing Plot

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Terror Plot Suspects

Brian Church, 20, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 24, of Keene, New Hampshire; and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24, of Oakland Park, Fla., are charged with plotting acts of terror in Chicago during the NATO Summit. (Credit: Chicago Police)

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Updated 07/02/12 – 1:59 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Three anti-NATO protesters have pleaded not guilty to charges they were planning to use Molotov cocktails to attack Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home, President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters, and several police stations.

The so-called “NATO 3” – Brian Church, 20, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 28, of Keene, N.H.; and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24, of Oakland, Fla. – appeared for their arraignment at the Cook County Courthouse on Monday, where their attorneys said they would request the defendants be tried at the same time.

Fellow protesters stood with their fists in the air in the back of the courtroom as the suspects entered the courtroom.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Brandis Friedman reports

Currently, the defendants’ trial is scheduled for July 2013, but defense attorneys want an earlier trial date.

Defense attorney Tom Durkin said the defendants won’t be able to post their bond, so, they’re asking for an earlier court date.

“The first thing we want to do, we don’t want to see these people rot in jail with a ridiculous bond; $1.5 million bond here is tantamount to no bond,” he said. “These people have no money. They have pro bono lawyers. It is preposterous. They’re not going anywhere.”

The three men were indicted last month on 11 counts under the state’s anti-terrorism law, including conspiracy to commit terrorism, material support for terrorism, possession of explosives, attempted arson, and other charges.

The three suspects are accused of plotting to make Molotov cocktails to attack police stations, the mayor’s home, the president’s campaign headquarters, and downtown financial institutions during the NATO Summit in May. Prosecutors have said the attacks on police were intended to be a diversionary tactic to undermine the police response to other attacks.

Defense attorney Michael Deutsch said prosecutors have sensationalized a case which, under other circumstances, would be an everyday case, rather than being the state’s first test of its anti-terrorism law.

“They’ve made this into an 11-count felony case, charging terrorism, charging two different conspiracies – conspiracy to commit terrorism, conspiracy to commit arson – and they asked for an unreasonable bond,” he said.

Defense attorneys have maintained from the beginning that the NATO 3 were set up, but that even if the suspects had Molotov cocktails as police and prosecutors claim, terrorism and conspiracy charges are excessive.

Attorneys for the suspects have said police officers, or police informants, infiltrated the “Occupy Chicago” movement and set up the defendants.

Durkin also questioned the indictment, which states the police investigation began late last year.

“It’s mind-boggling to me how they can allege a conspiracy that started on Oct. 1, 2011,” he said.

Also at Monday’s hearing, defense attorneys said they have not received all of the evidence that prosecutors have against their clients, but prosecutors said they will eventually get it.

Several protesters, many from the “Occupy Chicago” movement, rallied outside the courthouse while the defendants were in court. Several protesters also attended the hearing and the judge in the case angrily scolded one protester who held up a sign at the back of the courtroom during the arraignment.

The defendants are due back in court on July 16.

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