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Lawyers Say NATO 3 Held In 'Cruel And Unusual' Solitary Confinement

By Samantha Abernethy in News on May 23, 2012 4:00PM

Brent Betterly, Brian Church and Jared Chase have been charged in an alleged NATO summit terror plot. CPD photos.

The NATO 3 appeared in court Tuesday, and defense attorneys say they have been held in solitary confinement, in "hospital-white" cells 24 hours a day since Saturday. “They are totally in isolation from everyone else in the jail and each other,” defense attorney Michael Deutsch told the Chicago Tribune. “They have nothing to read. They have no writing material. It’s a kind of sensory deprivation situation.”

A Cook County Sheriff's Department spokesman said the three men were each put in separate cells in the Cermak Hospital wing "so they could be monitored for several days to assess if they pose a risk to "harm themselves or anyone else." He said the 13-by-10-foot cells are clean, have small windows and are monitored by nurses, and they will likely be moved into the general population.

The NATO 3 are Brian Church, 20, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 24, of Keene, NH; and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24, of Oakland Park, Fla., and they have been charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, material support for terrorism and possession of explosives. Prosecutors say the men planned to first attack four Chicago police stations and destroy several squad cars with Molotov cocktails to divert attention while they hit Obama’s national campaign headquarters in the Prudential Building, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home in Ravenswood and other downtown financial institutions. Police confiscated weapons and Molotov cocktails in the raid on a Bridgeport apartment.

They could be sentenced to as many as 85 years in prison, and they are being held on $1.5 million bail. Court documents show the arrests were the result of a weeks-long police investigation. Attorneys for the NATO 3 say it was the undercover police officers and/or police informants who brought the firebombs to their apartment, and the charges against them are the result of "entrapment to the highest degree." Occupy believes it has identified the two informants and stated in a release:

According to Occupy Chicago activists, Mo and Gloves took part in various organizing efforts over the past few weeks. Mo was arrested during an action on April 17th at 63rd & Woodlawn to protest the closure of a mental health clinic. The so-called NATO 3 (Jared Chase, Brent Betterly, and Brian Jacob Church), who came to Chicago from Florida, were befriended by Mo and Gloves and were likely sought out by the informants because of the out-of-town activists' unfamiliarity with local Occupy Chicago organizers.

Defense attorney Thomas Anthony Durkin questions whether the police had legal justification to initiate the investigation. "Was there really a serious threat coming from these people that they were aware of?" he said. "I haven't heard any evidence to support that. My client did not come here from Florida in order to do violence."

The defendants were among those arrested May 16 in a raid of a Bridgeport apartment by police that defense attorneys say was illegal. They were also in a car that was stopped by Chicago police last week. Video of that incident alleges police tried to intimidate and harass the men. The Sun-Times reports law enforcement officials asked a judge for the "no-knock" warrant because they were preparing to move the explosives to another location and feared they'd lose track. Authorities maintain the raid was just an effort to stop an "imminent threat."