Nato summit protesters face terrorism charges21/06/2012 - 08:20:07
Three Nato summit protesters face four terrorism-related charges after being accused of planning to attack US President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters in Chicago with Molotov cocktails, according to a grand jury indictment.
Authorities arrested Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Vincent Betterly days before the summit in Chicago under Illinois' never-before-used anti-terrorism statutes. They have been in jail since May.
The indictment against the 20-year-old Church, 24-year-old Chase and 24-year-old Betterly includes conspiracy to commit terrorism and material support for terrorism - two charges under which they were arrested.
They each could spend decades in prison if convicted.
Defence attorneys have said all three men intend to enter not guilty pleas at their July 2 arraignment.
One of Church's attorneys, Michael Deutsch, said all the charges seemed to derive from the alleged possession of four makeshift firebombs - made by pouring petrol into beer bottles and stuffing bits of cloth into the necks to serve as fuses.
"I think this is all just a continuing strategy of sensationalising the case to make it look more dangerous than it is," he said.
Defence attorneys had asked at a hearing last week if prosecutors would show them the indictment, complaining they had few details about the charges or the purported evidence. State's attorneys at the time said they would only disclose it at the arraignment.
But a copy of the indictment was available at the Cook County Circuit Court clerk's office this week, said Sarah Gelsomino, another of Church's attorneys and a member of the National Lawyers Guild.
"This is highly unusual behaviour that, at every stage, prosecutors have refused to talk to us," she said. "It is symbolic that we couldn't even get the indictment directly from prosecutors themselves."
Counts in the indictment that make no reference to terrorism include attempted arson, solicitation to commit arson, conspiracy to commit arson and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon.
Messages left for the Cook County State's Attorney's office seeking comment were not immediately returned.
The defence says the state anti-terrorism statute, adopted after the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks, is too all-encompassing and ill-defined.
Federal prosecutors handle the vast majority of terrorism cases in the US.
A copy of the indictment provided by Ms Gelsomino is dated June 13 and signed by Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, State's Attorney Anita Alvarez and the grand jury foreman.
It provides no details about the evidence.