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NATO 3 lose bid to get terrorism charges dropped

Brent Vincent Betterly (left) Jared Chase Brian Church  |  Chicago Police photos

Brent Vincent Betterly (left), Jared Chase and Brian Church | Chicago Police photos

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Updated: April 29, 2013 12:00PM

A Cook County judge Wednesday rejected the so-called NATO3 activists’ motion to dismiss terrorism charges stemming from the out-of-town protesters’ arrest last spring.

Judge Thaddeus Wilson said the Illinois terrorism statute is “constitutional on its face” and a “reasonable” law that “cracks down on terrorism.”

However, the judge also said in his 33-page ruling that Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Vincent Betterly’s attorneys can still argue that the statute is unconstitutional as applied to their specific case when the matter goes to trial in the fall.

Church, Chase, and Betterly are accused of plotting to attack President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home during the NATO Summit in Chicago last year.

The men’s attorneys sought to have their terrorism related charges thrown out, including providing material support for terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism and two-counts possession of an incendiary device with intent to commit an act of terrorism.

Church, Chase, and Betterly, who smiled and waved at roughly a dozen of supporters Wednesday, also face arson and unlawful use of a weapon charges.

Church’s attorney Michael Deutsch called Wednesday’s ruling a “mixed bag” since the judge said he will wait until he hears all the evidence to decide whether the men should have been slapped with terrorism charges.

“We believed this was never a terrorism case — never should have been charged as a terrorism case,” Deutsch said following the brief hearing.

Chase’s attorney slammed authorities for “selectively” using the rarely-used state’s anti-terrorism statute against his client and his friends.

“We certainly knew going into this that whenever you challenge the facial constitutionality of a statute, it’s an uphill battle, so we’re not devastated or shocked by the ruling,” Durkin said.

“…Our complaint is that they [authorities] pulled this statute out of their bag of tricks just for publicity purposes.”

Illinois’ anti-terrorism statute, which was passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, has only been used once before in Madison County.

Church, Chase and Betterly, all in their 20s, remain in Cook County Jail held on $1.5 million bail.

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