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Attorneys complain of jail conditions for 3 accused of planning bombings at NATO summit

By Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune –

CHICAGO — Lawyers for three men accused of plotting to firebomb police stations and other political targets during the NATO summit in Chicago said Tuesday their clients have been held in “cruel and unusual” solitary confinement in Cook County Jail.

Brian Church, 20, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 27, of Keene, N.H.; and Brent Betterly, 24, of Oakland Park, Fla., are each being held on $1.5 million bond on charges of conspiracy to commit terrorism, providing material support for terrorism and possession of an explosive or incendiary device.

Michael Deutsch, an attorney for the National Lawyers Guild, said at a brief court hearing for the three that they have been held since bond hearings Saturday in “hospital-white” cells for 24 hours a day and have not been allowed to communicate with anyone.

“They are totally in isolation from everyone else in the jail and each other,” Deutsch said. “They have nothing to read. They have no writing material. It’s a kind of sensory deprivation situation.”

Deutsch acknowledged that jail officials had told him they were concerned for the men’s safety if they were placed in the general population. He said he hoped to work with sheriff’s officials to relax the security conditions.

A jail spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Cook County prosecutors alleged the three are self-proclaimed anarchists and members of “Black Bloc,” a band of protesters who typically mask their faces to avoid identification.

According to the charges, the men planned to attack four Chicago police stations and destroy several squad cars with Molotov cocktails. They also intended to hit President Barack Obama’s national campaign headquarters in the Prudential Building, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home and downtown financial institutions, prosecutors alleged.

Police arrested them after they had built four Molotov cocktails.

Defense attorneys have alleged the men were set up on trumped-up charges by two undercover operatives who were either informants or Chicago police officers who infiltrated activist groups in the weeks leading up to the NATO summit.

The three appeared in court Tuesday morning dressed in tan jail uniforms and did not speak during the minute-long hearing. Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. granted a request by prosecutors to continue the case until June 12 when indictments may be returned.

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