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NATO 3 protesters being held in isolation, lawyer says

Attorney's Michael Duetsch Thomas Durktalk press about their clients charges living conditions Cook County Jail system. Tuesday May 22 2012.

Attorney's Michael Duetsch and Thomas Durkin talk to the press about their clients charges and living conditions in the Cook County Jail system. Tuesday, May 22, 2012. | Brian Jackson~Chicago Sun-Times.

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Updated: July 2, 2012 9:37AM

Three out-of-state anti-NATO protesters accused of making Molotov cocktails and planning a violent attack during the international leaders’ summit have been kept in isolation in the Cook County Jail, a lawyer for one of the men Tuesday.

“They have been kept in isolation without reading or writing material,” Michael Deutsch told Cook County Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. at a hearing.

Later, Deutsch told reporters the isolation has caused “severe psychological damage” to the three men — Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Vincent Betterly.

“They’re being kept in a hospital white cell, totally in isolation from everyone else in the jail and each other 24 hours a day,” said Deutsch, who is Church’s attorney: “It’s a kind of sensory deprivation situation for them. This is way to break someone’s spirit.

“When you start to call people terrorists, then you really change how they’re treated by the jail because [jail officials are] concerned someone is going to attack them because they’re terrorists or they’re going to attack somebody else,” Deutsch said. “You’re stigmatizing them.”

A spokesman for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said that, as is common in high-profile cases, the three men have been placed in 13-by-10-foot observation cells for 48 hours at Cermak Hospital, where well-being checks are conducted every 15 minutes.

“It’s done for their safety and the safety of the officers and the detainees,” sheriff’s spokesman Frank Bilecki said, adding that the cell’s have windows providing natural lighting

The three men — whose supporters have dubbed them the “NATO 3” — were to be placed in the jail’s general population later Tuesday and will be granted protective custody if they request it, Bilecki said.

Church, 22, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Chase, 27, of Keene, N.H., and Betterly, 24 of Oakland Park, Fla., appeared before Bourgeois in beige jail garb.

Lawyers Tom Durkin and Joshua Herman filed their court appearances as Chase’s attorneys. Defense attorneys Molly Armour, Lillian McCartin, Paul Brayman said they’d be representing Betterly.

Afterward, the lawyers proclaimed their clients’ innocence.

“If these people are terrorists, everyone can sleep well tonight,” Durkin said. “They did not come here to cause violence.”

The men are accused of plotting to attack President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home and to firebomb police stations and squad cars, declaring, that after the NATO Summit, “the city will never be the same,” according to police and prosecutors.

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