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‘NATO 3’ indicted in Chicago, their lawyers assail case against them

Occupy Chicago members show up support 'NATO 5' who were arraigned Cook County Criminal Court Tuesday June 11 2012. |

Occupy Chicago members show up to support the 'NATO 5' who were arraigned at Cook County Criminal Court Tuesday, June 11, 2012. | John H. White~Sun-Times

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Updated: July 14, 2012 6:22AM

The so-called “NATO 3” activists were indicted Tuesday on charges that accuse the out-of-state protesters of plotting to attack President Barack Obama’s Chicago campaign headquarters and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home with Molotov cocktails during the NATO Summit last month.

Brian Church, 20, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Jared Chase, 28, of Keene, N.H., and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24 of Oakland Park, Fla., appeared in Cook County criminal court in Chicago with chains on their legs and wearing yellow jail jumpsuits as their lawyers and a dozen supporters looked on.

The formal charges against them will be presented in court at their July 2 arraignments.

During Tuesday’s brief court hearing, Church’s lawyer asked prosecutors for a copy of the indictment, but he was refused.

“I don’t understand,” attorney Michael Deutsch said, prompting Cook County Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. to respond: “I don’t either, but that’s the way they’re doing it. It seems a little strange, but that’s the way it is.”

State’s attorney’s spokeswoman Sally Daly said later Tuesday that copies of indictments are not provided until the day of the arraignment in criminal court proceedings.

“This is standard operating procedure,” she said.

Outside of court, Chase’s attorney acknowledged that he didn’t expect to see the documents until the arraignment. Still, attorney Thomas Durkin assailed prosecutors for charging the three men with terrorism.

“This is not a terrorism case. This is a ridiculous terrorism case charged under a ridiculous statute. … This case stinks This is an informant-created case,” Durkin said, referring to the fact that the three men were arrested following an investigation that included undercover police officers.

The men are also accused of planning 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.

The case is unusual in that state charges, rather than federal charges, were filed in a terrorism-related case. Federal prosecutors have taken the lead in the majority of terrorism cases nationwide since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. This is the first time Illinois has invoked anti-terrorism laws adopted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

All three suspects, who Deutsch described as “over anxious,” have remained in jail on $1.5 million bail since their arrests before the NATO Summit in May.

Two other anti-NATO protesters charged in bomb schemes — Mark Neiweem and Sebastian Senakiewicz — are expected to appear in court Wednesday.

Altogether, the “NATO 5” are “the latest victims of the war on terror,” Joe Iosbaker, a supporter of those arrested, told reporters.

Outside the courtroom, the arrested protesters’ supporters held up a banner that read, “Free the NATO 5.”

Six other men were also arrested on felony charges during the anti-NATO protests. Since then, a judge cleared Californian Danny Johnson of aggravated battery to a police officer and another man, Taylor Hall, of Pennsylvania, was sentenced to two years court supervision for trying to pull a Chicago police officer off her bicycle during demonstrations.

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