CHICAGO (CBS) — Defense attorneys have released an indictment handed up by a Cook County grand jury, against three out-of-town men behind held on terrorism-related charges for their alleged activities before the NATO summit.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports the so-called “NATO 3” — Brian Church, 20, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 24, of Keene, N.H.; and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24, of Oakland Park, Fla. – are the first to be indicted under the state’s anti-terrorism law, adopted after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports
The men are charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism and material support for terrorism. Other charges include attempted arson.
The indictment against the suspects, which is essentially a ruling by a grand jury of probable cause to proceed, was handed down last week. But at a hearing on June 12, prosecutors refused to share copies of the indictment with defense attorneys.
It’s not unheard of for prosecutors to withhold the details of an indictment from defense lawyers until a case is assigned to a trial judge, but even the judge at the hearing last week seemed surprised that in this case, prosecutors are playing things so close to the chest.
But defense attorneys said they received a copy of the indictment from the Cook County circuit court clerk’s office.
The indictment, which defense attorneys released to the news media, does not reveal any new details. But it showed that each defendant had been charged with 11 counts each.
Defense attorneys have maintained from the beginning that the NATO 3 were set up. But on Wednesday, they said even if the suspects had Molotov cocktails as prosecutors claim, the terrorism and conspiracy charges are excessive.
“The fact that the indictment charges the defendants with 11 serious felonies, including ‘terrorism’ and two separate ‘conspiracy’ charges for the alleged possession of four makeshift incendiary devices shows that the State is intent on continuing its strategy to sensationalize this case,” defense attorney Michael Deutsch said in a news release.
The men were described last month by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez as self-described anarchists, who came from Florida to protest the summit. All have been held on $1.5 million bond since they were charged on May 19.
The three suspects are charged with plotting to make Molotov cocktails to attack police stations, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s house, President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters, and downtown financial institutions during the NATO Summit last month. Prosecutors have said the attacks on police were intended to be a diversionary tactic to undermine the police response to other attacks.
The men had been staying with several others at an apartment at 32nd and Morgan streets in the Bridgeport neighborhood.
Attorneys for the NATO 3 say police officers, or police informants, infiltrated Occupy Chicago and set up the three young men. A few days after the arrests, protesters released photos of the couple they knew as “Moe” and “Gloves.”
Attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild argued that the NATO 3 case matched many others in which charges alleging plans to commit terrorism or detonate explosives were linked to the political left. A comparable case, the guild said, was that against five men who allegedly plotted to blow up a bridge in suburban Cleveland – and who also allegedly had their eye on causing mayhem in Chicago.
The guild said like the Cleveland and NATO 3 cases both involved “at least one infiltrator, questions of provocation, and the intentional use by prosecutors of terms like ‘anarchists’ and the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement in an effort to politicize the accusations.
“The common thread running through the NATO 3 case and other similar contemporary cases is politically motivated infiltration,” Chicago National Lawyers Guild spokesperson Kris Hermes said in a news release. “Given that no Molotov cocktails or other incendiary devices have been used at any political demonstration in the U.S. in recent memory, questions of whether law enforcement is in fact provoking or manufacturing criminal activity remain unanswered and extremely relevant.”
The NATO 3 are set to appear for an arraignment at 9 a.m. July 2, at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse.
Defense attorneys have said all three men intend to plead not guilty.