The case of the missing indictment for the three NATO protesters charged with terrorism has been solved by the group’s lawyers, who discovered the documents at the Cook County Court clerk’s office and released them Wednesday.
Lawyers of the NATO 3 were initially denied access to the charges, which include material support for terrorism, possession of an incendiary device, conspiracy to commit terrorism, solicitation to commit arson, attempted arson and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon. The newly released documents show each activist with 11 felony charges each, more than was originally assumed.
“The fact that the indictment charges the defendants with 11 serious felonies, including ‘terrorism’ and two separate ‘conspiracy’ charges for the alleged possession of 4 makeshift incendiary devices shows that the State is intent on continuing its strategy to sensationalize this case,” said attorney Michael Deutsch with the People’s Law Office and the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), in a press release. “The prosecutor controls the grand jury and is able to obtain a rubber-stamped indictment for any charges it desires.”
The case against Brent Betterly, Jared Chase and Brian Jacob Church, who are in jail on a $1.5 million bond each, was marred by a lack of information from its inception. Deutsch was denied a copy of the indictment – in response, prosecutors said they were not legally obligated to provide it before the arraignment hearing.
In response to Deutsch being denied a copy of the indictment, Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. said at a hearing last week: “It seems a little strange, but that’s the way it is.”
In addition, prosecutors have not shared evidence regarding alleged materials to make firebombs found in the raided apartment, according to defense attorneys of the detained activists.
The State’s Attorney’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
Church, Chase and Betterly, who were arrested in May during an undercover operation and were said to have been planning an arson attack on Obama’s campaign headquarters, could spend years in jail while the case makes its way through the courts.
“The common thread running through the NATO 3 case and other similar contemporary cases is politically motivated infiltration,” said NLG spokesperson Kris Hermes. “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 three NATO defendants were arrested along with eight others only days before the NATO summit in May during a raid on the home of two Occupy Chicago activists. They were then held for up to 68 hours before receiving their charges; of the eleven arrested at the house, five continue to be held and the rest were released.
Among those arrested during the home raid were two undercover police officers – “Mo” and “Gloves” – both of whom, it was subsequently revealed, had been infiltrating Occupy Chicago for months prior to the protests.
The case of the NATO 3 is the first time the state’s attorney’s office has prosecuted under the Illinois terrorism statute, say defense lawyers, but the pattern of entrapment isn’t new to Occupy.
Hermes cites the case of the Cleveland 5, Occupy activists with federal terrorism and explosive charges who commentators say were led on by active infiltration.
Hermes says that the short-term goal of the city “which was to discredit the NATO demonstrators and perhaps diminish the number of people on the streets protesting” was achieved by the arrest of the NATO 3.
But, he continued, “Unfortunately now these three men are paying the price … and remain the unfortunate consequence of the city’s desire to create hysteria around so-called terrorism charges.”
Occupy groups around the country are calling for an international day in solidarity with the detained NATO protesters for July 2, the day of the arraignment. Hermes said the three will plead “not guilty.”
“There are real questions whether these crimes are being manufactured,” said Hermes, “and whether they would happen at all if they didn’t involve state actors.”