Local

‘NATO 3′ Ask Judge To Toss Terrorism Charges

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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CHICAGO (CBS) – Lawyers for three out-of-state men known as the “NATO 3″ – who have been accused of plotting to firebomb political targets during the NATO Summit last spring – have asked a Cook County judge to dismiss the terrorism charges against them.

WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports Brian Church, 20, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 28, of Keene, N.H.; and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24, of Oakland, Fla., all have been charged under a state anti-terrorism statute.

Defense lawyer Michael Deutsch said that state law ought to be thrown out.

“The statute says terrorism is an intent to intimidate or coerce a significant portion of the civilian population, and what we have alleged is those words coerce or intimidate – without any act of violence – is unconstitutionally vague, which allows for the punishment of First Amendment activity,” he said. “What does it mean to intimidate a significant portion of the civilian population? What is a significant portion, and what is meant by civilian population? All those vague undefined terms allow for the police and the prosecutors to pick and choose who to charge with the most serious prejudicial charges of terrorism.”

He said the law could allow authorities to prosecute demonstrators at labor protests or sit-ins.

Deutsch said the three defendants were caught with four Molotov cocktails, but he said they were prepared with the encouragement of undercover cops who infiltrated the Occupy Chicago group.

The judge gave prosecutors 21 days to respond to the defense’s motion.

The three defendants have been in custody since they were arrested last May. They have been indicted 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 during the summit.

The defendants have pleaded not guilty to all charges.